Cebu City

Cebu City ready for 2022 Bar Exams amid Omicron surge

Lorraine Ecarma
Cebu City ready for 2022 Bar Exams amid Omicron surge

CEBU CITY. A Santo Niu00f1o statue standing 30-feet tall on top of the Santo Niu00f1o Chapel in Cebu City on January 18. Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Cebu City proposed allowing examinees who test positive for COVID-19 to take the bar in a separate area, but this request was denied by the Supreme Court

CEBU CITY, Philippines – The local government of Cebu City is prepared to host the 2022 Bar Exams set this Friday, February 4, and Sunday, February 6.

This is the first time the Bar Exams will be held in locations outside the National Capital Region.

The Bar Exams are being held over a month following Typhoon Odette ripped through central Philippines and in the midst of a surge in new COVID-19 cases due to the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

This is the third time the Bar Exam was rescheduled since the pandemic began in 2020. Cebu City’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center has been the main agency coordinating with the judiciary to ensure that the Bar Exams proceed as scheduled without any hitches.

In a press conference on Thursday, February 3, city councilor Joel Garganera, head of the Emergency Operations Office, said that the city government contacted power distributor Visayas Electric Co. (VECO) to make sure no power interruptions occur during the examination days.

Ato gyud gi-ensure, first and foremost ang atong power (we first ensured the power). I was already assured by Sir Anton Perdices [chief operating officer] of VECO, that there will be no power outage during those two days, nianing tulo ka lugar (in these three areas). In fact they have a standby emergency crew,” he said.

Electricity service has become a problem in Cebu island because of the onslaught of Typhoon Odette, which damaged Cebu’s power lines. Although a significant number of houses have been reenergized since, the island still experiences regular power interruptions in some areas.

In lieu of manually written examinations, Bar applicants will take the exam electronically.

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For Cebu City, exams will be held at the University of San Carlos School of Law and Governance, University of Cebu School of Law, and the University of San Jose Recoletos.  

Garganera said that some roads leading to the testing areas will be closed during the examinations dates.

Barangay captains in the villages where the testing areas are located have already been instructed to warn citizens against karaokes and from blaring loud music.

Garganera added that the police, as well as, emergency medical services will be posted near the testing sites.

Examinees must test negative for COVID-19

As a safety measure against COVID-19, and in line with existing Department of Health circulars, the Supreme Court (SC) required all Bar applicants to submit themselves to COVID-19 testing.

Only those negative for the coronavirus will be allowed into the testing sites to avoid transmission of the highly infectious disease.

Garganera told media that the city government had previously suggested to the SC to allow COVID-positive Bar applications to take the Bar Exams.

He said that some lawyers were willing to shell out cash to cover the isolation, extraction, and transportation of COVID-postive Bar takers, so they could take the Bar Exams in a separate isolated testing area.

“In Cebu City, we offered to take care of the isolation for those who tested positive. We offered to shoulder their hotel stay in an accredited hotel by the DOH, the extraction of the COVID-positive Bar takers. Apart from that, we offered to provide transportation during the exam days,” Garganera said in Cebuano and English.

But this request was later denied by the SC. According to Garganera, this is because other host LGUs are unable to provide the same facilities and logistical necessities as Cebu City.

“We have already offered all of this,” Garganera said in Cebuano.

“Last week,they finally responded. Because there are 31 testing sites all over the country… they have to be uniform,” he added. –  

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