Bar exam roll of honor

MANILA, Philippines — For a job superbly done, unfettered felicitations are due the 2006 Supreme Court Bar Examination Committee (chaired by the able and amiable Justice Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez) and the following examiners: Salvador B. Lao (Political Law), Salvador C. Medialdea (Labor), retired Supreme Court Justice Josue N. Bellosillo (Civil Law), Court of Tax Appeals Presiding Justice Ernesto D. Acosta (Taxation), Nilo B. Peña (Mercantile Law), retired Sandiganbayan Justice Romeo M. Escarreal (Criminal Law), retired Supreme Court Justice Bernardo P. Pardo (Remedial Law), and Deputy Court Administrator Zenaida D. Elepaño (Legal Ethics). The Office of the Bar Confidant, headed by the indefatigable Cristina B. Layusa, assisted the committee.

Highlights of the 2006 test. Of the 6,187 who took the exam (the largest batch ever), 30.60 percent passed. During the last 60 years, from 1946 to 2006, the highest passing percentage was registered in 1954 at 75.17 percent; the lowest in 1999 at 16.59 percent. From 1982 to the present, the passing grade had consistently been 75 percent. Prior to 1982, the passing mark was invariably “reconsidered” to include grades below 75 percent; to as low as 69 percent in 1947, 69.45 percent in 1946, and 70 percent in 1948, 1963, 1972 and 1974.

In the latest test, Noel Neil Q. Malimba of the University of the Cordilleras came out numero uno, followed by Deborah S. Acosta (UP) and Ricardo M. Pilares III (Ateneo de Manila) who tied for second place; Erika Ana Andrea C. Jimenez (Ateneo), third; Maria Charizza B. Carlos (Ateneo), fourth; Gina Lyn R. Rubio (Far Eastern University), fifth; Anjuli Larla A. Tan (Romualdez Educational Foundation), sixth; Karen H. Gaviola (University of San Carlos), seventh; Al-shwaid L. Ismael (University of Cebu), eighth; Timothy Joseph M. Mendoza (UP), ninth; and Alain Charles J. Veloso (UP), 10th.

The year 2006 marks the first time that four non-Metro Manila schools landed in the top 10. This is also the first time that the Romualdez Educational Foundation and the University of Cebu (UC) produced placers. Congratulations to Deans Martin Romualdez and Adelino Sitoy. UC president Augusto Go was so enthused by the success of UC’s first law graduates that he gifted Ismael with a brand new car.

Top schools in bar history. During the last 37 years, from 1969 to 2006, the first place had always been monopolized by Ateneo and UP, interrupted only in 2006 and 1998 (Janet B. Abuel) by the University of the Cordilleras, in 2002 by the University of Santo Tomas (Arlene M. Maneja), in 1975 by the University of the East (Nicanor B. Padilla Jr.) and in 1970 by the Far Eastern University (Romulo D. San Juan). From 1944 to 1968, San Beda, FEU, MLQ University, Philippine Law School, University of Manila and Divine Word College (of Bohol) competed actively with Ateneo and UP.

From 1944 to the present, the top 10 spots were captured mostly by the above-mentioned schools, plus Lyceum of the Philippines, San Sebastian College, Arellano University and Adamson University.

Provincial schools with top 10 placers include the University of San Carlos, Ateneo de Davao, University of Perpetual Help, Bicol Colleges, University of San Agustin, Colegio (now University) de San Jose-Recoletos, University of the Visayas, Silliman University, University of Bohol, University of Nueva Caceres, University of Southern Philippines, University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos, University of Iloilo, St. Louis University, University of St. La Salle, Mindanao State University, Xavier University and others.

Past top 10 achievers. Four incumbent Supreme Court justices are bar placers: Antonio T. Carpio (6th place, 1975), Adolfo S. Azcuna (4th, 1962), Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. (6th, 1971) and Antonio B. Nachura (7th, 1967), along with two Supreme Court officials, Assistant Court Administrator Antonio H. Dujua (8th, 1969) and Corazon G. Ferrer-Flores (10th, 1986).

Of the 21 past chief justices, nine were topnotchers: Jose Yulo (3rd, 1915), Cesar Bengzon (2nd, 1919), Roberto Concepcion (1st, 1924), Querube C. Makalintal (7th, 1933), Ramon C. Aquino (6th, 1939), Claudio Teehankee (1st, 1940), Pedro L. Yap (1st, 1946), Andres R. Narvasa (2nd, 1951) and Artemio V. Panganiban (6th, 1960). Notably, the first three lady Supreme Court justices rated No. 1: Cecilia Muñoz-Palma (1937), Ameurfina A. Melencio-Herrera (1947) and Carolina Griño-Aquino (1950).

Retired Supreme Court members who figured in the top 10 were: Mariano H. de Joya (1st, 1907), Antonio Villareal (1st, 1909), Jose Hontiveros (1911), Jose P. Laurel (2nd, 1915), Alejo Labrador (1st, 1918), J.B.L. Reyes (6th, 1922), Conrado Sanchez (3rd, 1923), Julio Villamor (6th, 1926), Calixto Zaldivar (3rd, 1928), Estanislao Fernandez (4th, 1933), Pacifico P. de Castro (2nd, 1939), Lino M. Patajo (7th, 1939), Guillermo Santos (5th, 1944), Buenaventura de la Fuente (5th, 1947), Irene R. Cortez (9th, 1948), Jose C. Campos Jr. (5th, 1949), Isagani A. Cruz (8th, 1951), Florentino P. Feliciano (6th, 1952), and Florenz D. Regalado (1st, 1954), who obtained the highest grade in bar history at 96.7 percent.

Other notable placers (former presidents, vice presidents, Senate presidents and speakers) were Manuel Roxas (1st, 1913), Carlos P. Garcia (6th, 1923), Eugenio Perez (1st, 1926), Arturo M. Tolentino (2nd, 1934), Diosdado Macapagal (1st, 1936), Emmanuel Pelaez (1st, 1938), Ferdinand E. Marcos (1st, 1939), Jovito R. Salonga (tied 1st with Jose W. Diokno, 1944), Neptali A. Gonzales (9th, 1949), Ernesto M. Maceda (10th, 1956) and Franklin M. Drilon (3rd, 1969).

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