2016 Bar passers want to be in public service
MANILA, Philippines – After passing the bar, several soon-to-be lawyers already have their minds set on another path: public service.
Two bar passers interviewed at the Supreme Court (SC) during the announcement of results on Wednesday, May 3, immediately indicated their plans to join the Public Attorneys Office (PAO). (READ: University of San Carlos grad tops 2016 Bar Exams)
One of them is 31-year-old Mary Grace Mangrubang who failed the bar twice – in 2012 and 2013 – so she took a break in between to focus on raising her youngest, Denise, whom she carried at the SC the whole time she waited for the results.
Upon seeing her name, her first call was to her mother who's back in Isabela where she graduated. Her husband could not come along with them because he has to work. The Mangrubang family has been living in Manila since 2012 to support Mary Grace's review for the bar. (READ: Former Comelec janitor to lawyer – dreams come true at 2016 Bar exams)
Life has definitely not been easy for Mary Grace; the title of attorney might just be what she needs to start living comfortably. But Mary Grace is dead set on joining PAO.
"Kapag nakapasa ako sinabi ko gusto kong magserve, hindi naman 'yun 'yung purpose ng pagiging lawyer kasi napakanoble ng profession, hindi pera 'yung kailangan, ang dami-daming cases na na-stuck na hindi nare-resolve agad," Mary Grace said while she wiped the tears from her eyes.
(I told myself that if I pass, I will serve, the purpose of being a lawyer...it's a noble profession, it's not about money, especially there are many cases that are still not resolved.)
The same is true for Angie Sevilla, a first-time taker from the Philippine Christian University. She was wearing a red dress and a black leather jacket that might not be apt for Wednesday's weather, but she said she wore that same outfit during the 4 Sundays in November at the University of Santo Tomas (UST), where she took the tests. She wasn't about to break the streak, lest she break what could be luck.
Luck and hard work, in the end, gave Angie the good news she could not wait to tell her mother on the phone. "Ma, abugado na po ako, para po sa inyo 'to!" she told her. (Mom, I'm a lawyer now, this is for you!)
"I really worked hard for this, 6 na taon ko siyang tinapos, plus yung review, masaya po talaga ako, wala na akong mahihiling, I promised the Lord I will be a lawyer you want me to become, tapos prinomise ko na magiging PAO lawyer ako," Angie said.
(I really worked hard for this, I studied for 6 years, plus review, I'm really happy, I cannot ask for more, I promised the Lord I will be the lawyer you want me to become, and I promised I will be a PAO lawyer.)
Lawyer for nurses
Stephen Humiwat from the University of the East (UE) looked confident when he entered the SC premises. He went there a little later, friends in tow, already knowing he had passed the Bar. "Congratulations, attorney!" his friends exclaimed as they hugged him.
Stephen wanted a photo of himself looking at his name on the giant screen – something to mark this occasion.
Stephen is confident. Why wouldn't he be? He ranked No. 9 in the 2009 Nursing Board Examinations and has been working as a reviewer for Nursing board takers. He already has a title to his name, and a good record in taking licensure examinations.
Stephen told himself in 2009: If I top the examinations, I will study law. And that he did. Why?
"I wanted to help health workers who are abused and violated in terms of labor, I want to become a solution for that. 'Yan ang bargain ko na kapag nag-top ako sa Nursing mag-aabugasya ako, and this is what I've been waiting for when the dream and the dreamer become one," Stephen said.
(That was my bargain, that if I top nursing I will take up law. This is what I have been waiting for, when the dream and the dreamer become one.)
High passing rate
This year's 59.06% passing rate, an unprecedented rate and the highest in decades, is drawing mixed reactions. A high-ranking source in the judiciary told Rappler that it raises questions about the quality of lawyers.
The passing grade remained at 75% but according to Bar chairman Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, the examinations were graded in a way that there's really no right and wrong.
"The minority legal opinion now might be the majority legal opinion later," Velasco said, saying that as long as the takers were able to justify their answers, they were considered for a good mark.
The source said this might just mean we have produced "incompetent lawyers".
Legal Examination Board (LEB) Chairman Emerson Aquende does not want to make too much of it, saying that the competence of a lawyer is measured when he begins practicing law. He told Rappler in a text message: "The purpose of the bar exam is only to measure whether or not the examinee meets the prescribed minimum for a beginning lawyer to be entitled to a license to practice law. A high passing rate only means that there are more who made the cut but the competence involved is only that of a beginner lawyer."
For Mary Grace, Angie, and Stephen, this is inconsequential now. Their lifelong dreams have just come true and it's their moment to shine. – Rappler.com