Saturday, July 31, 2021

Seares: Bar exams: Ericta, Sereno cases

RELEASE of the 2017 bar exams results set off the usual furor in the community, fueled by expectations that Cebu schools would dominate the Top 10 list again. (They did, with three USC examinees bagging #2, #4 and #7.)

And it brought back interesting stories about bar exams past:

[] Last year, there was some noise at the end of the four-Sunday tests when the story circulated that eight of 16 questions in Legal Ethics in previous exams were repeated verbatim with only the names changed.

There was public debate on laziness, at best, and, at worst, plagiarism or copying by the examiner. Not serious enough to give another test on the subject or annul its results. As to the examiner concerned, one wonders if anyone in the high court would care now to make him answer for what happened.

[] In March 2013, Supreme Court Chief Justice (on leave) Ma. Lourdes Sereno acted up when a reporter inquired from SC spokesman Theordore Te about the grade of her son Jose Lorenzo Sereno. “That’s personal,” Te told the reporter after Sereno fumed. The journalist was thinking of the Ericta case in 1982.

[] Gustavo Ericta, son of then associate justice Vicente Ericta, in 1982, through his dad, had his exam paper on mercantile law re-checked and his grade raised from 56% to 58%, enabling him to get the passing score of 73%. Only 949 examinees out of 5,247 passed in the 1981 exams and the young Ericta was among them. One associate justice exposed the scandal, leading to the resignation of 12 SC justices, including then chief justice Enrique Fernando. Days later however, President Marcos swore them all in, except Ericta and associate justice Ramon Fernandez who were found “responsible” for the grade-fixing.

[] He cried, she cried

An anecdote that Atty. Eddie Barrita keeps retelling every year and swears is true concerns a bar examinee many years ago who, upon learning from Clavecilla telegraph office that he passed, rushed to tell the good news to his parents.

The lawyer years later became a successful practitioner and law instructor who knew his law but often confused his pronouns. As the law professor retold the story in class: “When I told my father I passed, she cried. When I told my mother I passed, he cried.”

Barrita’s translation: When each parent was given the news, the other parent cried.

[] Cheating on the wife

Sagbayan, Bohol Mayor Ricardo Suarez is facing a complaint of immoral conduct, filed by his wife, after he was caught in July last year allegedly shacked up in a pension house with a 15-year-old girl. (It wasn’t clear in the news story as to when she became 15: when the affair began in 2010 or she was 15 the scandal broke out last year.) The mayor allegedly exchanged blows with his son and beat up his wife.

But here’s the thing: the mayor directly admitted in February 2017, the complaint said, that he and the child/woman were “on” and the wife and he were “off” because of his new love.

No denial, no oblique excuse or circuitous admission. Not like that husband you may have read about, a former Provincial Board member, who gently broke the news of infidelity to his wife, thus:

“Honey, if ever the Lord would take you ahead of me, could I have a wife to take care of poor old me?”

“Hesus, Hesus, don’t think of that. I’d always be here to care for you. But if that’s the Lord’s will, you should have someone else in my place.”

“Could she sleep on this bed?”

“Why not? We just bought it. This is sturdy and comfortable. She could even have the new clothes you bought me.”

“You’re very kind, honey, but your dresses won’t fit her. She’s nowhere near your size.”

“You cheating bastard. I’d set this bed and my clothes on fire and burn both of you to hell in it! And God be my witness!”

None of that for Mayor Suarez, it seems. Just an administrative complaint before the ombudsman.


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