O and O are 3, 3

DO NUMBERS bring luck? To those who believe in it, it’s some security blanket -- and a wand to voters who similarly believe.

Cebu City Councilor Franklyn Ong, who’s running for vice mayor, says during one BOPK (Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan) “pulong-pulong” that his and runningmate for mayor Margot Osmeña’s number in the ballot is 3. So they’re 3 and 3, just as their surname initials are O and O.

To Bongbong Marcos supporters, his ballot number -- 7 -- is the lucky number of his dad, Ferdinand Marcos, the martial law president. If luck is inherited too, his fans say, he’ll be the next president.

SC puts foot down

Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon called the attention of the City Council to an ordinance (#2339 of October 17, 2012) that prohibits discrimination in Cebu City “on the basis of disability, age, health status, sexual orientation and gender identity, ethnicity and religion.” Dizon said he believes the Supreme Court (SC) rule barring Covid-positive examinees in the bar examinations -- being held March 4 and 6 in the city and other urban centers in the country, beside the usual test site in Manila -- violate the city ordinance.

It was merely an opinion of one councilor. It was doubtful if the city ordinance could stand in the face of the Supreme Court authority to decide how to conduct qualifying exams for would-be lawyers. And it was too late; the issue is “moot” as you read this. SC officials led by bar exams chairman Associate Justice Marvic Leonen have been both firm and persuasive: they talked with local officials but didn’t waver on their stand to enforce SC policies.

WARNING. The SC group supervising the tests in the outside-Manila sites has been asking or telling LGU officials to let it do its work. And the Bar Group saw to it that information about examinees being excluded from the 2022 bar exams must come from the Supreme Court. It even warned that since the tests are part of functions of the high court, it can hold in contempt any form of disruption.

That warning worked not just on lawyers’ groups, such as the IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) Cebu City chapter, and local government officials who meekly followed the SC request for embargo on information. Noise in Iloilo and Bacolod was promptly silenced, the councilors were told.

LIMITED HELP. The opinion of Councilor Dizon didn’t lead to a City Council action against the SC during its regular session Wednesday, February 2, or two days before the start of the tests. A resolution pushed by youth sector Councilor Jessica Resch just requested the high court to allow examinees who tested Covid-positive to take the exams in a separate, health-protocol-conditioned site. As Minority Floorleader Nestor Archival Sr. noted, there’s “no harm” in making the distressed examinees feel they had the City Council’s support.

Lawyers in the Sanggunian and others tapped by Councilor Garganera pooled private funds to pay for the isolation stay of the said examinees in hotels.

NUMBERS. From the SC, this information: Of the 8,461 examinees tested by the SC, only 1.36 percent of bar takers tested positive. Department of Health guidelines “allow examinees who tested positive but recovered and underwent isolation to enter the testing site.” AJ Leonen was quoted as having disclosed that 11,790 paid the bar application fee and 11,378 are taking the tests, or a 96.5-percent turnout.

No figures were given on Covid-positive bar takers in Cebu. In some other places, like Cagayan de Oro, not cowed by the SC warning, numbers on would-be lawyers struck out by Covid were released.

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