Failing to watch the controversial win of “Pambansang Kamao” Manny Pacquiao over Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez on Sunday may have been one treat that had to be skipped by the 6,000 or so law students who fought their “second round” of the four-Sunday scheduled bar examinations inside the University of Santo Tomas campus.
They just had to miss the much-awaited end of the Pacquiao-Marquez trilogy fight as theirs is not just to pass the month-long grueling exams but, also, to prove that the long-delayed reforms—instituted this year to correct the manner the yearly tests are conducted—work.
“I had the fight recorded on tape, so, it can just wait, even after the bar exams. But, this life-changing bar exam cannot wait. I just cannot afford to miss it,” says Glenn, a self-confessed Pacman fanatic.
For the first time, this year’s exams shifted from the traditional and largely essay-type examinations to a multiple choice question (MCQ) type—just like the other qualifying exams administered by other professional regulatory bodies. Indeed, for a long time now, the state of the bar exams has been one of the identified priority areas that needed reforms for a “just legal system,” along with reforming the legal education and judicial system and others.
“In many ways, the problems of the legal system can be traced to a law formation program that emphasizes technical rules over justice and equity, and which does not instill in future lawyers the values of integrity and social responsibility.… Reforming legal education must be accompanied by bar examination reforms. So long as the bar exams stress memorization and not practical problems, law schools are bound to do the same,” said a 1996 study dubbed “Monitoring the State of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession” by Social Weather Stations (SWS).
The message of that more than a decade-old study still resonates now. The recent controversies involving the so-called flip-flopping decisions, railroaded home-town decisions, clashes between the Executive, Congress and the Judiciary, the debate over the right of a disgraced president to seek medical help (or is it asylum?) abroad, among other issues, are but “badges of imperfections” on the legal and justice systems that need effective and fundamental reforms.
Indeed, there is a pressing need that “teaching of law” and “the conduct of professional lives” of lawyers must be attuned also to the country’s aspiration “for a more just and more humane society.” A challenge that was thrown by social-scientist Fr. Joel E. Tabora, S.J, president of the Ateneo de Davao University, during the recent 50th anniversary celebration of the Ateneo de Davao Law School.
“We do not teach nor practice law in a vacuum…. We are not in the business of just forming mindless employees, lackeys to the interests of the wealthy, local and the foreign, shrugging their shoulders to the damage done to the poor and defenseless in their thoughtless service of fees-paying clients,” Father Tabora told the gathered alumni and guests, including Senior Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio.
“Let our law school therefore equip our students and graduates not only to pass the bar and serve bad laws, but to pass the bar and create good laws. Let them, for instance, help people to understand from our Mindanao experience how urgently the 1995 Law on Mining needs to be replaced by a Minerals Management Act that is more pro-Filipino, more pro-environment, and more sensitive to the integral development—and not the shameless exploitation—of the Lumads… Let our graduates choose to use their professional skills not only in the service of clients, but in the service of the common good, sensitive also to the legal needs of the poor and disadvantaged,” Father Tabora said.
Hopefully, Father Tabora’s call will be heard. When new lawyers from the current batch taking the bar exams take their oath next year, may they become “legal champions” as public interests lawyers and not succumb to the pitfalls of the “corporatization” of the legal profession.
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REMEMBERING GENE BOYD: “Sunset, The Last” was the title Tatang Rene Lumawag, a respected Davao photojournalist, gave to the last framed-image found in the camera of his son Gene Boyd, also an accomplished photojournalist. The scene was a sunset by the sea taken by Gene Boyd from the pier of Jolo, Sulu, just minutes before he was brutally murdered on Nov. 12, 2004—33 days before his 27th birthday.
Tatang Rene said reliable reports gathered from residents in the area point to the fact that Gene Boyd was shot in the head from behind, with a handgun, by an Army officer popularly known as “Col. Jack.” But authorities were quick to report that the assailants were the Sailani Brothers, who were said to be Abu Sayyaf Group members. We are still calling for justice, Tatang Rene said.
Gene Boyd, the country’s sole representative in the Young Photographers of Asia and the Pacific, was in Jolo at that time finishing a photo documentation commissioned by the Asia Foundation.
To mark the seventh death anniversary of his death and in search of justice for the slain Gene Boyd, friends and family members will launch on Nov. 20 the 1st Gene Boyd R. Lumawag Cycling Fundraising Event.
Also dubbed as the “Padyak Para Kay Boyd Para sa Burn Patients Fun Ride,” the funds that will be generated will be used for the benefit of indigent patients at the Mindanao Burn Center of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), according to Joselle Badilla, a friend of Gene Boyd.
Padyak is also supported by 35 cycling clubs in Davao City under the FORCE (Federation of Off-Road Cycling Enthusiasts) and Dapoba (Davao Pobreng Bikers Association).
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