SC to hold ‘digitalized, localized, and proctored’ Bar exams in November

Robie de Guzman   •   February 15, 2021   •   144

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday announced it has approved the conduct of “digitalized, localized, and proctored” Bar examinations on all four Sundays of November 2021.

In a bulletin posted on its Twitter account, the SC said the court en banc issued a February 8, 2021 Resolution approving the modality for the Bar Exams this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This means that Bar examinees will be able to use their own Wi-Fi-enabled laptops instead of the traditional exams which require all answers to be handwritten.

The high court, however, clarified that the Bar exams will not be taken remotely.

“Examinees will still walk into testing rooms and will be proctored while taking the exams. Surveillance cameras will also be installed in all testing rooms,” the SC said.

The high court said examinees will be assigned in testing centers in a locality closest to their residence or the school they graduated from, or for any other consideration.

This will be determined depending on the final list of schools that would qualify as local testing sites, it added.

Bar examinees’ laptops should also comply with some specified system requirements, and that tablet devices, desktop computers, chromebooks and other similar devices will not be allowed.

The SC said the computer software that will be used in the examinations is designed to prohibit examinees from exiting the application and accessing other applications during the test proper.

It advised examinees not to store any file in their laptops that has a reasonable connection with the substance and procedure of the exams.

“Examines are advised to start organizing their digital filing system so that they may offload their law-related files into an external disk or other devices before taking the Bar examinations,” it added.

On the examination days, the SC said the computer hardware shall be “thoroughy checked” by court personnel and that examinees will be asked to sign an honor code.

While the examinations will be digitalized, the high court clarified that the traditional mode of handwritten examinations will still be allowed if an examinee suffers from a physical disability.

Changes to this year’s mode of examination will allow examiners to grade the tests digitally.

“This makes it possible to recruit some subject matter experts from outside Metro Manila for the first time, making the assessment of the Bar Examinations even more inclusive,” the SC said.

The high court said it is set to start the process of identifying local testing sites, the minimum requirements of which shall be released next week, while applications will be accepted until April.

“Certified testing sites will be announced before the period for applications to take the Bar examinations begins,” it added.

The SC said it will announce the guidelines for taking the Bar exams and start accepting such applications by May.

The Bar exams will be held on November 7, 14, 21, and 28, 2021.

The SC said proper hygiene protocols will be observed during the examinations, and that it will “explore arrangements for a predominantly saliva RT-PCR testing modality in each of the testing sites.”

Oral arguments on Anti-Terrorism Law suspended, to resume on March 2

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The oral arguments on the Anti-Terrorism Law has been moved to March 2.

In an advisory, the Supreme Court announced that several justices are undergoing self-quarantine as a safety precaution against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). According to a source, one of the justices tested positive for COVID-19.

The en banc session set for Tuesday (February 23) is also suspended.

Meanwhile, petitioners want to raise new developments to the SC regarding their request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the Anti-Terrorism Bill.

One of the petitioners’ lawyers, Atty. Edcel Lagman said they want to include the alleged ‘red-tagging’ of one of the generals of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

“For the first time in history petitioners and their counsel before this honorable court are seriously threatened with persecution under the challenged statute by no less than military general who is part of the state enforcing the controverted ATA,” he said. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

Marcos can still appeal PET decision on poll protest vs Robredo — CJ Peralta

Robie de Guzman   •   February 19, 2021

MANILA, Philippines Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. can still file a motion for reconsideration on the decision of the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta said.

Peralta said Marcos may still appeal the decision as part of his legal remedies.

The camp of Marcos earlier said it has yet to decide on whether to file a motion pending the release of the copy of the ruling.

Peralta said the copy of the decision has yet to become available for the public as they are still awaiting other magistrates to submit their written opinions on the matter.

“We are still waiting for the others who might explain their votes because if it is in the result the effect is that those who voted in the result should have explain their votes that’s the rule,” the chief justice told reporters.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday unanimously junked the election protest filed by Marcos against Robredo over the results of the 2016 vice presidential race.

The SC said seven of the 15 justices present during the meeting “fully concurred” in the dismissal while the rest “concurred” in the result.

Peralta has refused to elaborate on the reasons for the dismissal citing confidentiality of court deliberations.

“That I cannot divulge, the deliberation is confidential. What can I only say is that as usual there was deliberation, there were debates, there were several opinions raised but eventually as what the chief justice usually does is to call for a vote and that what happened,” he said.

When asked about the possible effect on the protest should Marcos push through with his plan to run for public office in the 2022 elections, Peralta replied with: “That’s another question. That’s not tackled in our deliberation.”

“If he wants to run then that’s his choice. As to whether or not that will abandon his protest, that’s another thing,” he added. RRD (with details from Correspondent Dante Amento)

SC dismisses Bongbong Marcos’ poll protest vs Robredo

Robie de Guzman   •   February 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on Tuesday junked the election protest filed by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo over the results of the 2016 vice presidential race.

In a statement, the Supreme Court Public Information Office (PIO) announced that the court unanimously voted to dismiss the protest of Marcos against Robredo.

Of the 15 magistrates present during Tuesday’s meeting, seven justices “fully concurred” in the dismissal while eight “concurred” in the result, the SC PIO said.

SC Spokesperson Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka could not say if the decision can be appealed.

“The deliberation of the tribunal is highly confidential, this is our announcement. This is the first time we are announcing this. The parties will be provided a copy of the resolution as usual,” he said.

A copy of the resolution detailing the reason or reasons for the dismissal will be uploaded in the high court’s website once available, the SC PIO said.

Marcos filed the protest in June 2016, claiming that the vice-presidential race was marred by fraud. He lost to Robredo by 263,473 votes in the May 2016 elections.

Part of Marcos’ protest sought for a recount, revision and re-appreciation of ballots from three provinces he chose: Camarines Sur, Iloilo and Negros Oriental.

Marcos also sought the annulment of election results in three provinces in Mindanao – Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Maguindanao – due to alleged terrorism, intimidation, voter harassment and pre-shading of ballots.

Both camps of Marcos and Robredo said they have yet to receive a copy of the ruling, but assured they will issue their statements on the matter as soon as they have established the facts based on PET’s official pronouncement.


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