SC Associate Justice Delos Santos eyeing early retirement due to health reasons

Robie de Guzman   •   March 26, 2021   •   521

MANILA, Philippines — Another Supreme Court magistrate is eyeing to retire early, ahead of the mandatory retirement age of 70, a court official said Friday.

Supreme Court Spokesperson Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka confirmed that Associate Justice Edgardo delos Santos has expressed his intent to retire earlier than required due to health reasons.

“According to Justice Delos Santos, due to health reasons he is considering the possibility of retiring ahead of his 70th Birthday on 12 June 2022,” Hosaka said.

For now, delos Santos “remains an incumbent member of the Supreme Court until after a specific date of retirement, as may be indicated in a formal letter from him to the en banc, is accepted and acted upon by the Court,” he added.

Delos Santos was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2019.

Prior to his appointment to the high court, delos Santos served as Court of Appeals (CA) Justice in Cebu.

Delos Santos would be the fourth SC justice to retire early under the Duterte administration.

The first was Justice Samuel Martires who opted to retire earlier than January 2019 as he was appointed as Ombudsman in 2018.

He was followed by Justice Priscilla Baltazar-Padilla, who retired in November 2020 “due to physical inability,” and Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, who is set to retire on March 27.

Peralta announced last December 2020 that he opted to retire earlier than his mandatory retirement on March 27, 2022, for still undisclosed reasons. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

Supreme Court revises rules on use of laptops during Bar exams

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court will allow examinees to keep reviewers in their laptops that they will be using for the Bar exams, according to an advisory released on Monday.

“Examinees are now allowed to keep reviewers in their laptops, which should always be saved in their local folders and not downloadable from their clouds,” Bar Exams chairperson Justice Marvic Leonen said in Bar Bulletin no. 35.

In previous bulletins, Bar examinees were advised to organize and offload their law-related files into external devices before taking the Bar examinations. They were also prohibited from using their laptops other than to use Examplify during the test proper.

The new bulletin allows examinees to access their files on the laptop for any last-minute studying once done with the security and health check.

Examinees may also review their own files during lunch breaks.

“In any event, examinees must close all reviewers and other law-related files 30 minutes before the first bell (7:30 a.m.; 1:30 p.m.) rings,” Leonen said.

The SC reminded examinees that they are responsible for the safekeeping of their laptops and it will not be liable should they spill anything on their laptops or do any damage that might render their laptops unusable for the succeeding exam.

“Examinees shall also not be allowed to avail of the back-up computers should such a situation arise,” it added.

The SC also said that talking to other examinees is prohibited, as well as sharing their computer screens or files.

“Silence and physical distancing will be strictly enforced,” it said.

“Those who will violate this rule may face disciplinary action,” it added.

The high court likewise advised examinees not to attempt any form of cheating even with the relaxed policy.

“As those who have completed the sample exams already know, Examplify is a secure delivery program, designed to prohibit examinees from exiting the application once the test proper has begun,” it said.

“Trying to access files during the test proper is a futile effort and a violation of the Honor Code,” it added.

Examinees are still prohibited from connecting to the internet at all times, unless authorized.

“Attempting to connect to the internet while inside the premises of the local testing center, other than to download the examination file and to submit the answer file shall be considered cheating,” the SC said.

The high court also reminded examinees that they are “absolutely prohibited from using their laptops for social media once they enter the premises.”

It also reiterated previous Bar bulletins that the bringing of iPads, tablets, or other gadgets is prohibited and will be confiscated by security.

Leonen warned that no second chances will be given to anyone who will be caught violating the rules.

“Any form of cheating will not be tolerated. Anyone who will be caught violating these rules will be automatically disqualified from the 2020/21 Bar Examination and future bar examinations. No second chances will be given for any breach of the Honor Code,” he said.

Leonen earlier urged Bar takers to strictly observe health protocols and go on quarantine before the exams.

Fully vaccinated examinees are required to undergo only one antigen test within 48 hours before the first examination.

“Those who will test positive under the antigen test shall be required to comply with the guidelines of their local testing center’s local government unit,” Leonen said.

Unvaccinated examinees, on the other hand, will be required to present negative nasal or saliva RT-PCR Test results taken within 72 hours before the first examination. Information about testing will be received through email by each examinees.

Those who have recovered from COVID-19 shall still be required to undergo an antigen test or RT-PCR test before the first examination.

Examinees who present a positive test result but have since recovered from COVID-19 up to a month before the first Bar examination day shall be required to present an affidavit stating under oath that they are considered by the local government units as a “recovered” case and they have completed the required isolation period.

“Any false statement shall be cause for outright disqualification,” Leonen said.

Supreme Court issues TRO vs COMELEC’s decision to cancel Senate bet’s COC

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the Commission on Election’s (COMELEC) decision to declare as a nuisance and cancel the certificate of candidacy of a senatorial aspirant.

In a document posted by the SC Public Information Office on Twitter, the high court granted the petition of Norman Cordero Marquez, assailing the poll body’s decision to cancel his candidacy for the May 2022 elections.

The SC said the petition appears to be sufficient in form and substance.

Considering the allegations contained, the issues raised and the arguments adduced in the petition, the court said it has required the COMELEC to comment on the petition within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice.

“Now, therefore, respondent COMELEC is hereby required to comment on the petition within a non-extendible period of 10 days from notice hereof,” the document read.

“Meanwhile, a temporary restraining order is issued, effective immediately and continuing until further orders this court,” it added.

Supreme Court moves Bar exams to February

Robie de Guzman   •   January 14, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Friday announced that the Bar examinations have been rescheduled to February 4 (Friday) and February 6 (Sunday).

The SC said this is in consideration for those who may not be able to push through with the exams due to the current COVID-19 situation.

The Bar exams were originally scheduled for January 23 to 25, 2022.

In a Bar bulletin, the SC said a total of 8,546 Bar examinees have reported that some of them have tested positive for COVID-19, living with COVID patients, or under quarantine due to direct contact.

The high court also said that 16 of the 31 teams that will be deployed will be “critically understaffed” if the current schedule were maintained.

“Considering these numbers, as well as the projections of the Court’s expert consultants on the progress of this current COVID-19 surge, the Supreme Court En Banc has unanimously decided that the Bar examinations be rescheduled to February 4, 2022, Friday; and February 6, 2022, Sunday,” the SC said.

Bar exams chairperson, SC Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, has urged Bar examinees to strictly undergo quarantine by January 20.

Bar takers who have concerns that are not within the competence of the SC’s help desks are advised to contact the SC via BarChairLeonen@gmail.com.

“Be patient. Take a few days off to regain your composure and then continue with your preparations. Soon, those who have the determination, tenacity, and resilience to overcome these challenges will become great lawyers who will serve our people well,” he said.

Leonen also expressed gratitude to local government units as well as schools that will host the command center and serve as local testing centers.

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