By Ali G. Macabalang
GEN. SANTOS CITY – The Mindanao State University (MSU) satellite campuses here and in Iligan City have been named among five schools to serve as venues for this year’s bar exam in the south, even as stakeholders hailed the news as a breakthrough in the history of centralized testing in Metro Manila.
The offices of Dr. Anshari P. Ali and Dr. Sukarno Tanggol, chancellors of the MSU campuses here and in Iligan City, respectively, have gladly welcomed the announcement from the Supreme Court, and heralded the good news in their official Facebook pages and in the academic community.
The MindaNews online media network has also described the decentralization of the bar testing venue as “first time in history” in its July 10 report on the announcement of Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, chair of the 2020 and 2021 bar examinations.
The 2020 bar exam was canceled due to the pandemic so this year’s bar is expected to gather more examinees, since their travel expenses would be significantly reduced.
“Examinees (from) the provinces no longer need to worry about raising a huge amount for travel to and from Manila, and accommodations, food and inland travel in Manila. And in this time of the pandemic, the additional cost of RT-PCR tests if they travel to Manila,” the MindaNews report said.
The bar exams on November 7, 14, 21 and 28 will be administered in at least 16 testing centers nationwide, five of them in Mindanao: the three Ateneos (Ateneo de Davao University, Ateneo de Zamboanga University and the Xavier University–Ateneo de Cagayan de Oro) and the MSU field campus here and in Iligan City, according to Leonen.
Leonen reportedly expected the number of testing sites to reach 25 as the Supreme Court was still negotiating with “several large schools to accommodate more bar examinees.”
Mindanao resident-graduates of Law schools elsewhere – for example the University of the Philippines, the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City or University of San Carlos in Cebu – can also take the bar exam in the five designated southern venues, the MindaNews cited Associate Justice Leonen as saying.
The testing sites in Luzon are Ateneo de Manila University, St. Louis University in Baguio City, Manila Adventist College, Saint Louis College in La Union, St. Mary’s University in Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan State University in Tuguegarao, University of Nueva Caceres in Bicol, and De La Salle in Lipa.
In the Visayas, the testing sites are La Salle Bacolod, Central Philippine University in Iloilo and University of Cebu in Banilad.
The Supreme Court’s Public Information Office said Leonen, in his presentation titled “Looking Ahead: Meaningful Bar Reforms,” disclosed that the High Tribunal is “ready to conduct localized bar examinations, with students bringing their own devices into their own classrooms,” with each classroom positioned following the guidelines of the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The High Court will launch on July 15 an online portal for the digital filing of petitions to take the bar exam, dubbed “Bar PLUS” or Bar Personalized Login Unified System. This scheme will spare a bar applicant from going to Manila and lining up at the Office of the Bar Confidant, Leonen was cited as saying.
Through Bar PLUS, applicants can submit personal details, access the necessary application forms, upload petition requirements, and pay application fees digitally. Applicants are given privilege to choose their preferred exam venue, subject to the approval of the Office of the Bar Confidant. (AGM)