BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS  A bar candidate erupts in tears after reading the results of the 2014 Bar Examination posted outside the Supreme Court building in Manila.  PHOTO BY MELYN ACOSTA

    A bar candidate erupts in tears after reading the results of the 2014 Bar Examination posted outside the Supreme Court building in Manila.

    A female graduate of the San Beda College of Law in Manila topped the 2014 Bar examinations where only close to 19 percent of the aspirants passed, the Supreme Court announced after it held an en banc session on Thursday.

    Irene Mae Alcobilla ranked 1st overall after garnering a rating of 85.5 percent. She was closely followed by Christian Drilon, a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University, who got 85.45 percent.

    “It was a very close margin, just .5 percent,” Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta said in Filipino as he announced the results of what is considered as the toughest state licensure examination in the country.

    Drilon is a nephew of Senate President Franklin Drilon, who placed third in the 1969 Bar examinations. Drilon’s son, Patrick, also passed the 2014 examinations.

    Alcobilla, who works at the Office of the Solicitor-General, attributed her topping the Bar exams to miracle and hard work.

    “I feel that it’s a miracle. Maybe I’m just dreaming. I can’t define what I am feeling right now,” she told the ABS-CBN News Channel. “It was hard. I almost did not sleep during the Bar exams. It was all plain reading,” she said.

    Before Thursday’s announcement of the Bar results, Alcobilla wrote on her Facebook account: “I declare that tomorrow my dream will come true in Jesus name. Amen. 3.26.15.”

    Risel Castillo Taleon, prefect of student affairs of San Beda, said Alcobilla was a consistent academic achiever in the College of Law.
    “If there are some things that San Beda contributed to the success of Alcobilla and the other passers, it is the value of prayer and hardwork,” Taleon added.

    Peralta, who headed the Supreme Court’s Bar Examinations Committee, said the High Court deliberated and later approved a recommendation to lower the passing rate from 75 percent to 73 percent.

    The results were released five months after the examinations were conducted in October at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.

    Oath-taking of the successful Bar candidates is set for April 24 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City (Metro Manila).

    The Bar examinations covered eight subjects: Political Law and Public International Law, Labor and Social Legislation, Civil Law, Taxation, Mercantile Law, Criminal Law, Remedial law and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises.

    A total of 1,126 passed the examinations. The Supreme Court cleared 6,344 Bar candidates to take the examinations, but only 5,984 managed to complete the tests, the SC said.

    Under the Rules of Court, a Bar examinee is “deemed to have passed [the]examinations successfully if [he/she] has obtained a general average of 75 percent.”

    The SC, however, has the discretion to lower the passing rate upon recommendation of the Bar Examinations Committee head.

    It was the third time since 2012 that the High Court approved the lowering of the passing rate. In 2012, the passing rate was lowered to 70 percent while the grade was reduced to 73 percent in 2013.

    Aside from Alcobilla, two other San Beda graduates barged into the Top 10 — Jose Angelo David (6th place, 84.45 percent) and Adrian Aumentado (7th place, 84.35 percent).

    Three examinees shared the 4th spot: Gil Garcia of Ateneo de Davao, Mark Leo Bejemino of University of the Philippines and Reginald Laco of De La Salle University Lipa (Batangas). They all garnered a rating of 84.55 percent.

    The others who made the topnotchers’ list were: Sandra Mae Magalang of the University of the Philippines (3rd place, 84.6 percent), Michelle Liao of the University of Cebu (5th place, 84.5 percent), Rhey David Damay of the University of the Philippines and Fideliz Cardellie Diaz of Far Eastern University-De La Salle University (8th place, 84.2 percent), Jamie Liz Yu of the University of the Philippines (9th place, 84 percent) and Tristan Delgado of Ateneo de Manila University (10th place, 83.95 percent).

    Justice Peralta announced that this year’s Bar examinations will be moved to November in consideration of the shift of the academic calendar of some law schools in the country.

    After announcing the Bar exams results, he told those who failed to make the cut:

    “To those who did not make it, there is always a second time or other chances.”

    The full list of successful Bar examinees can be accessed at www.manilatimes.net


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    1. Leonardo Aromin on

      Funny… because in the U.S. the passing percentage is from 85 to 95% or even higher. Here in the U.S. law students undergo what I may call as “sa butas ng karayom” during their freshman years aside from the entrance exam that students have to pass in order to enroll in the college of law.

    2. I think that bar passers or top-notchers to be specific are self-made because of simple basic knowledge of LAW as taught to them in schools bundled with research initiative & readings for more social awareness of past & current events relating to legal cases specially “celebrated” cases where special legal proceedings are applied.

      I am a pre-law graduate (UST Economics Batch 83) and I was able to defend myself in Singapore courts by just researching on basic laws on rights of women in that country. Plus basic knowledge of law as I learned from school. I paid $1 acceptance fee for being unemployed (at the time being housewife only to a Singaporean). With pen & paper on researched material, I faced the Singapore courts w/ its jury, etc. In the end, I won a legal battle for child custody & support/maintenance.

      What I’m trying to say is that a law student can make it to the bar exam’s passing mark if he can go out his way to add more to his studies, beyond what the classroom professor & books teach because in actual law scene, many cases can be extraordinary where the book is just a guide but its your “talent & wits” as a legal adviser to be put to a real bar exam.

      So, relax to all law students. Don’t live by the book itself. Tho it’s definitely the basis for the fundamentals & ideologies in law practice still. Never lose hope. When one’s calling is for “defense for people welfare”, I believe you all can make it using that alone as your will power to target a passing mark, not necessarily to be in the top-notch list.

    3. Maybe the reason why only 19% passed the BAR exam because we Filipinos really want to elevate the standard of law schools not only in NCRs but also in provinces or regions offering Bachelor of Law.

    4. Why is the Bar exam pass rate so low at just 19%? Is it because the exam is too difficult to complete in the time allowed? Is it because the exam is actually designed to fail 80% of the candidates thus control the number of lawyers in practise?. Or is it simply that the candidates are poorly prepared for the exam even having graduated from a law school after 3 or 4 years of legal studies and attending a 4 or 5 month intensive bar review course but still only 19% can pass?
      I suspect one of the reasons is that many of the candidates fail because they do not have an adequate comprehension of English. Or could it possibly be that the students and bar examinees are just incompetent because they have not studied well or internalised the material they read?