After a two-year hiatus and two postponements, the Bar Examination finally pushed through Friday, with more than 11,000 examinees in 31 local testing sites in 22 local government units.
In an online press briefing, Bar chair and Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said at 8 a.m., 11,378 took the examination out of the 11,790 who paid application fees.
The second day will be on Sunday.
Due to health protocols against Covid-19, the vaccinated examinees were segregated from the unvaccinated.
This year’s Bar exam marked the first time that it was held in multiple venues, shortened to two days instead of the usual four, and conducted digitally with examinees bringing their own laptops and downloading questions from a secured online application.
At least 12 examinees were allowed to take the examination in the traditional handwritten format.
One examinee who is afflicted with a disease that disabled his hands was allowed to take the exam with the aid of a stenographer who will encode his answers.
“Easily, this is the largest batch of bar examinees and it is the batch that would fulfill the lack of new lawyers that happened during the last two years because of the pandemic,” Leonen said.
Those who are fully vaccinated underwent antigen tests 48 hours before the first examination while the unvaccinated had to present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result taken within 72 hours before the examination.
Examinees who tested positive for Covid-19 in the antigen test had to be negative in the RT-PCR test to take the Bar.
Leonen said about 115 examinees turned out positive out of the 8,461 tested under SC supervision but some were given considerations, including recovered cases.
“The news swirling in social media is not accurate. Just because you tested positive does not necessarily mean you are not allowed to enter [the testing sites],” he said.
He explained that following the Department of Health and local government unit guidelines, a person who tested positive and had properly isolated for seven days for the vaccinated and 14 to 21 days for the unvaccinated are allowed to enter the testing sites.
The exam was supposed to be held on January 16, 23, 30, and February 6 but was shortened and rescheduled to January 23 and 25 due to the pandemic and the effects of December’s Typhoon Odette in the provinces.
High incidence of positive Covid-19 cases and those in quarantine among examinees and Bar personnel forced the SC to move it yet again to February 4 and 6. (PNA)