THE SUPREME Court has lifted the rule prohibiting aspiring lawyers from taking the bar examination after failing it five times.

The new rule will take effect in next year’s bar examinations.

First implemented in 2005, the so-called “five-strike rule” called for the “disqualification of a candidate after failing in three examinations, provided, that he may take a fourth and fifth examination if he successfully completes a one-year refresher course for each examination.”

The high tribunal adopted the recommendation by a study group after the bar exam’s passing rate last year declined to lower than 20 percent, the lowest since 2002 and the second lowest in Philippine history.

Out of the 5,686 examinees allowed to take the bar, only 5,343 completed the four Sundays of the annual examinations last year. A total of 949 of the examinees (17.76 percent) passed. The figure was slightly lower than the 31.95 percent passing rate in 2011.

Last year, UST posted a 48.57 percent passing rate, with only 34 out of 70 examinees making the cut.

Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina refused to attribute the SC decision to the low passing rate in the recent bar exams. He said it was more about giving another chance to the examinees.

Not degrading

The five-strike rule does not necessarily degrade the system of screening future lawyers, according to Divina. He said it was not done to increase the number of passers since taking the bar exams after the fifth time does not guarantee that they would pass.

“Law students have the right mind not to take the bar exmination haphazardly, thinking they could make it again. [They] still have to hurdle, to go the needle, and to go to the grind to be able to pass a bar and be lawyer,” Divina said.

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Fragile

Divina added that the lifting of the rule would not apply to UST since the number of Thomasian examinees who failed the bar exam for the fifth time was less than a hundred.

“I don’t think we have flunkers, or those who took the exam more than five times,” he said.

He also said the difficulty of the bar exams should not be blamed for the low passing rate, citing other factors such as low-passing percentage, lack of preparation, probably personal or family issues, financial issues that are more pressing than taking the bar exams, or lack of foundation from the school they came from.

According to the high court, the abolition of the five-strike rule could not be applied this year because the list of the bar candidates had already been published.

This year’s bar exams will be held on four Sundays of October in the University for the third time since 2011. J.C.R. Obice

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