AUTHORITIES enforced stricter security measures as examinees trooped anew to the UST campus for this year’s Bar examinations.

Two-hundred fifty security personnel were tapped during the four Sundays of October, officials said.

The Supreme Court Security Division spearheaded the security operations while the Philippine National Police (PNP) explosives and counter-terrorism divisions patrolled the vicinity of UST. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Court of Appeals, the UST Security Office, and the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group took charge inside the campus.

Traffic aides from the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau supervised traffic flow around UST.

Last Oct. 5, MMDA advised motorists to expect heavy traffic on España Boulevard, Lacson Avenue, and Dapitan and P. Noval streets on the first Sunday of October at 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Ambulance and fire trucks were put on standby inside the campus and on P. Noval street in case of emergencies.

Manila Police Department Station 3 Chief Supt. James Afalla told the Varsitarian that there was a minor problem with crowd control during the first Sunday of the exam, prompting policemen to use ropes to prevent supporters from blocking the gates and roads.

Similar to last year’s protocols, the traditional “Bar operations,” which involved rallies and cheering squads, were prohibited by the Supreme Court.

“Bar ops are still be banned. They just cause problems to us. They are noisy,” Deputy Court Clerk and Bar Confidant Cristina Layusa told the Varsitarian in an interview.

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There were several attempts to hold Bar operations outside the UST gates, but police responded and stopped such activities immediately.

“When they brought out the streamers, we advised them that it was prohibited, as said by the Supreme Court,” Afalla said. “We have to be strict, the candidates are aware of the protocol. The supporters will be [held] responsible and accountable for their demeanor.”

Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, meanwhile, issued Executive Order No. 32 ordering a liquor ban around the University during the four Sundays of October.

“No store, restaurant, eatery, café shall be allowed to sell, peddle or offer for drink to any person intoxicating beverages between the hours of 4:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. within 200 meters from the perimeter walls of UST,” the order stated.

It added that violators would be fined up to P200 or face imprisonment of not more than six months, or both, depending on the discretion of the court.

UST Secretary General Fr. Winston Cabading, O.P. issued a memorandum closing the Tan Yan Kee Student Center on all Saturdays and Sundays of October for the exclusive use of Bar examiners and supervisors.

The Main Building, Benavides Park, UST High School Building, Health Service, Thomas Aquinas Research Complex, and Quezon Drive were barricaded. Classrooms at the Main Building, St. Martin de Porres Building, St. Raymund de Peñafort Building, and Benavides Building were used again for this year’s examination.

Only the P. Noval and Lacson gates were opened to the public, giving access to the Santisimo Rosario Parish Church and UST Hospital, respectively.

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The number of examinees this year was 5,686, or 8.29 percent lower compared with last year’s 6,200.

Exams last Oct. 7 covered Political Law and Labor and Social Legislation while Civil Law and Taxation were covered on Oct. 14. The scope of the exams on Oct. 21 were Mercantile Law and Criminal Law. The last day of the exams, Oct. 28, covered Remedial Law and Legal Ethics Practical Exercises.

According to the Supreme Court website, the exams followed the original schedule of two subjects per day. Last year, the examinations were scheduled by topics and sub-topics, instead of by subject.

Law deans’ choice

Deans from different law colleges had expressed their support for UST as the venue of this year’s examinations because of bigger and more secure premises.

“They found the facilities okay and very excellent and pleasing to the eyes. And it’s spacious unlike the previous venue which was crowded,” said Nilo Divina, dean of the Faculty of Civil Law and secretary general of the Philippine Association of Law Deans.

Meanwhile, Layusa said that unlike La Salle—the exam venue for more than a decade—UST can accomodate and provide a huge assembly place for bar candidates.

“La Salle is not yet ready, and some of the deans of the examinees, even UST, wanted it to be in UST because the candidates are secured,” Layusa told the Varsitarian.

Associate Justice Martin Villarama, Jr., this year’s Bar committee chairman, scheduled the exams a month earlier following the examiners’ petition to start the checking of test papers before the Christmas season, Layusa said. Nikka Lavinia G. Valenzuela

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