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Raising the bar

Significant changes marked the 2016 Bar examinations, the results of which were released this week.

The passing rate of 59.06 percent was the highest in decades. Observers point to a “more reasonable” grading system observed by the examiners. The Bar chairman this year also reportedly expressed a desire to have a high passing rate.

Another change is that none of those who topped the exam graduated from Metro Manila law schools. Previous results were dominated by products of either the University of the Philippines or Ateneo de Manila. This year, the top students came from law schools in the provinces.

There were also more women among the best performers.

As in previous years, as well, there were inspiring stories like that of the janitor at the Commission on Elections who maintained his job while studying.

That the Bar results figure in the news every year tells us that society continues to value the law and those who swear to uphold and safeguard it. We also respect the hard work that goes with the study and practice of the law. As early as the first days in law school, one would know it is not for the laid back or the tentative.

This reverence for the law should allow us to relate to how we react to current developments in our government. Because lawyers are such esteemed members of society, it follows that we turn to them to ensure that laws and due process are followed, and that no injustice is committed to anybody whatever his or her station in life.

Alas, what we see now are lawyers who speak as if they did not think about the words they uttered, put reason in irresponsible statements already made, defend patently illegal acts, ignore the law altogether when it does not suit their purposes, and use their stature to feign authority which they hardly deserve, or even just strut around, arrogant and smug.

The overly rigid standards for admission into the Bar have not been a guarantee that all our lawyers would be conscientious and scrupulous. This perhaps explains why the country still gets worked up over a new release of names.

The law has more 3,747 new champions. Let’s hope they stay true to the ideals that motivated them.

Topics: Editorial , Raising the bar , 2016 Bar examinations , Commission on Elections
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