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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, November 26, 2019
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OPINIONS

Passing the Bar

Ninfa Leonardia

I was not the only one who laughed out loud when we read the report saying that President Duterte fired Vice President Leni Robredo from her three-week designation as a drug czar – czarina would have been more appropriate – because she is “too talkative”. Look’s who’s talking! He probably does not like anyone who might out-talk him. Anyway, Robredo should be happy – she got more sympathizers after being fired. People like martyrs, you know.

***

Last Sunday was the last of the four Sundays when the 2019 bar examinations were held. It will be several months before the result will come out, but already, the examinees who numbered 8,245 on the first day, had only 7,691 on the final day. The others must have despaired and dropped out before the end. Indeed, the bar exams are probably the most intimidating of such government tests, with a very heavy casualty list every year. And yet more and more want to be lawyers, or as some people jeer, become “liars”.

***

Several years ago, I was in Manila in a taxi with my friend Violet Diaz, at about 3 p.m. when I spotted an afternoon tabloid with the headline “Bar exam results out”. Stop, I told the driver, I want to buy a copy. With trembling fingers, I ran through the list of passers, quickly down to “L” and when I saw what I was looking for, immediately looked for a phone to make a call. When I reached the one I was calling and told him the results, he begged me, “Please, please send me a copy at once” I argued that the news would be on the radio, but he kept on pleading so I had to proceed to the airport (there was no fax, no cellphones then) to look for someone flying home to Bacolod where he would meet the carrier.

***

But I guess that is the usual anxiety of bar passers, knowing how big the “mortality rate” is every year. That was why I understand the urgency of relaying solid proof to convince the one who made it that he had, indeed, passed the bar. I also realized how much happiness the “proof” would make his family and mine. Because that was the bar examination that my youngest brother, Bing, who is now mayor of Bacolod, got proof that he had, indeed hurdled the bar at first try.

***

I never get tired of repeating that quote “It’s an ill wind that blows no good”. It has been proven true again in the case of the Ampatuan Massacre case, the most horrible carnage related to politics when 59 people were mowed down by the opponents of the candidate they were supporting. That happened 10 years ago, and until now the court has not handed down a decision. Do we go into another quote that goes “Justice delayed is justice denied”?

***

Obviously that is happening in the Ampatuan case that took place 10 years ago this month, and until now has not been resolved. Lately there was a report saying that the verdict will come out next month – after its 10 th anniversary, since that happened in November 2009. The good thing from the announcement is that a bill has been filed in Congress that seeks to speed up investigations of killings so they will not last 10 years! Ironically, the bill was filed by Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, of Maguindanao.

***

It is only right that Mangudadatu will work for that bill, because he was actually the reason why it happened. Because his family feared that he would be attacked if he, personally would go to the Comelec to file his certificate of candidacy for governor against an Ampatuan, it was decided that his wife would be the one to go and file it with some members of their family and their supporters. But their idea that the women would not be harmed proved wrong, because the group, all 39 of them, were all gunned down. And the case is still pending, 10 years now, and supposed to be resolved next month – after 10 years and one month.

***

Trust it to Senator Ping LAcson to be part of something like this. There is now a move in Congress to restore the teaching of Good Manners and Right Conduct (GMRC) in all schools all over the country. I do recall that we did have such a subject when we were in both elementary and high school at LCC. It was the first subject taken up in the morning and our training was replicated at home where our parents always insisted on our greeting them “Good Morning” and “Good Evening”. If we fail, they would greet us first, and that was very humiliating. That is why I am all for the bill Lacson is supporting. GMRC can make life more pleasant, you know.*

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