Some Bar takers in Cebu City test positive for COVID-19, may be barred from taking exams
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Bar takers who proved positive to the antigen tests today, February 2, 2022, are in limbo as to whether they can take the Bar exams or not.
Some of the Bar candidates who are supposed to take the examinations on February 4 and 6, 2022, proved positive to the antigen tests conducted in the three host universities.
Councilor Joel Garganera, the deputy chief implementor of the EOC, said they are isolated in hotels through the help of lawyers and private individuals here.
“We in the LGU (local government unit) are not allowed to divulge results. Prudence dictates it’s not the right thing to do. With a heavy heart, the least we could do is isolate them to a hotel facility at our expense, not the city but from well-meaning lawyer friends,” said Garganera.
The positive Bar candidates will all go through a real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for confirmation, the results of which will determine if they can take the Bar exams on Friday or not.
At least 1,200 bar takers are in Cebu City preparing for their examinations in three universities including the University of San Carlos (USC), University of Cebu (UC), and University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R).
USJ-R College of Law Dean, Lawyer Elaine Bathan posted on her Facebook page confirming that some candidates who were assigned to their university proved positive in the antigen test.
“My heart weeps for those who tested positive in the antigen test. I wish there was a way. I cried. My heart was crushed seeing one of mine crying alone on the stairs. Praying for last-minute miracles,” she said.
Many of the lawyers in Cebu are hoping that even if the Bar takers will prove positive to COVID-19, they will still be allowed to take the exams, albeit in a different room or setting.
Cebuano environmentalist lawyer, Benjamin Cabrido, posted on his Facebook page a tweet of a candidate who felt frustrated for proving positive to the antigen test despite undergoing quarantine.
“There’s got to be a way for them to take the exam, say, a separate exam room for all who tested positive but show mild symptoms,” said Cabrido in the public post.
Another Cebuano high-profile lawyer, Amando Virgil Ligutan, told CDN Digital that there has to be a way to allow the positive Bar candidates to take the examinations, after all, they sacrificed so much to take the exams.
“Some of those who tested positive are working students who took leave from work just to prepare for the bar examinations. There’s got to be a way to allow them to take the bar examinations despite testing positive for Covid-19. Especially with the prevalent Omicron variant, which is most contagious among the strains. There must be a contingency plan for them, like an open-air venue for them, or a separate room with video surveillance and proctors wearing PPEs?” said Ligutan.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu City Chapter confirmed that there are Bar candidates that indeed proved positive to the antigen test.
IBP Cebu City Chapter President, Lawyer Michelle Mendez-Palmares told CDN Digital that they have been appraised by deans of Schools of Law here that Bar candidates have indeed tested positive to the antigen test.
“The Bar Bulletin No. 37 series of 2022 is clear on the guidelines and inasmuch as we want all Bar candidates to be able to take the exams, this COVID pandemic has made it very challenging as there is also a need to balance the health and safety of many others involved in this historic #bestbarever.”
Mendez-Palmares said that the IBP Cebu City Chapter has helped the Bar candidates through the Big Brother Program which includes arranging the RT-PCR tests for them prior to the examinations.
“The IBP Cebu City chapter has made efforts to help the bar candidates through its Big Brother Program which includes among others, coordinating with the DOH 7 for RT-PCR testing for Bar candidates at a discounted price, with a special lane for bar candidates and assured release of results within 24-48 hrs from taking of the specimen, the result not later than 12 noon of February 3, 2022. This has been coordinated with the six law schools in Cebu,” said Mendez-Palmares.
For now, those who proved positive to the antigen tests can only wait for the results of the RT-PCR and hope that the near two years of waiting and preparations will be rewarded with at least a chance to take the exams. /rcg
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