by Ronquillo C. Tolentino
October 26,2014 shall be the fourth Sunday of this year’s bar examinations.
Of the 6,344 bar examination applicants, 350 decided not to take the bar exams after the first Sunday, October 5, 2014 leaving 5,994.
As I write this, my attention was invited to a Philippine Daily Inquirer October 12,2014 news item titled: “Sereno seeks revamp of bar exams to ‘define kind of lawyer PH needs’ “Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno requested law schools to take and lead in the study on the ideal Filipino lawyer. Sereno admitted that the high court had no time to make the study considering its work-load. The chief justice said that “ the Supreme Court does not have the time to make the paper or the study that is necessary for us to define the kind of Filipino lawyer that must be produced by the legal profession, under the supervision of the Supreme Court. In addendum, she stressed that the study should identify competencies and basic skills that the ideal Filipino lawyer should possess considering the legal problems Filipinos usually face, including the 10-million strong diaspora.”
Lawyers, to my mind have never forgotten the fact that a lawyer in the Philippines is an officer of the court and a person in authority. And if he is a notary public, he is a public officer. This is explained in Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil.724 (1935) when it emphasized : “An attorney is a public officer....He occupies a quasi-judicial office because he is in fact an officer of the court whose close and intimate relationship with the bench described by that phrase. He is figuratively speaking, a priest of justice.
“While an attorney has many rights and privileges, he has equally a number of duties and responsibilities. It is his duty to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to support the Constitution and obey the laws; to observe and maintain the respect due the courts of justice and judicial officers; to counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as he believes to be debatable under the law; to employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him, such means only as consistent with truth and honor, and never to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law.
“He is to maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself, to preserve the secrets of his client, and to accept compensation in connection with his client’s business except from him or with his knowledge and approval; to abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged; not to encourage either the commencement or the continuance of an action or proceeding or delay any man’s cause for any corrupt motive or interest; never to reject, for any consideration personal to himself, the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed; and in the defense of a person accused of a crime, by all fair and honorable means, regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused, to present every defense that the law permits, to the end that no person may be deprived of life or liberty, but by due process of law.”(Rule 138,Sec.20 (e) to (i) Rules of Court.
It is asserted that the bar exam revamp is part of the Chief Justice’s reform program for the judiciary.
If I may give my two cents worth of opinion to the issue, it must be continuously stressed to lawyers and law students alike the constant inculcation on the rules and ethics of the profession.
Of this year’ bar candidates, the oldest is an 88 year old man from Bulacan.
A joke is still told by some bar reviewers. Bar candidates are forewarned not to mark the notebooks given them in every subject of the bar examinations where they write their answers in their own handwriting using a fountain pen.
A bar candidate failed the bar examinations eight times. As he was close to 80 years old when he took his last bar examinations, he had written on the last page of every notebook this note :”Sir, let me pass the bar. I would like to die a lawyer. /MP