2017 Bar: Redemption for UST, sorrow for hazing victim Castillo’s mom

Lian Buan

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2017 Bar: Redemption for UST, sorrow for hazing victim Castillo’s mom
It is bittersweet redemption for a law school rocked by a high-profile hazing scandal

MANILA, Philippines – The University of Santo Tomas (UST) Faculty of Civil Law performed well in the 2017 Bar Examinations, with 5 of its graduates landing in the top 20.

UST had the most number of graduates who made it to the top 20, alongside San Beda College Manila which also had 5 topnotchers. The last time that UST placed was in 2011 when Christian Louie Gonzales made it to the top 5.

For the 2017 Bar Examinations, Lorenzo Luigi Gayya placed 6th, Klinton Torralba placed 9th, Emma Ruby Aguilar placed 10th, Arman Joseph Guzman placed 13th, and Aecaya Christine Calero placed 18th.

UST Law’s passing rate in 2017 is 89.90%, its second highest passing rate in recent years, according to Dean Nilo Divina.

Divina said the 2017 turnout affirmed that UST is “a premier law school” in the country.

“How sweet it is. All our efforts, sacrifices, and prayers paid off. Truly, with strong determination, hard work, and faith in God, nothing is impossible,” he added.

The Supreme Court (SC) released the results on Thursday, April 26. A total of 1,724 out of 6,748 examinees, or 25.55%, hurdled one of the hardest licensure exams in the Philippines. (FULL LIST: Bar Exam 2017 passers)


It is bittersweet redemption for UST Law which had been embroiled in a high-profile hazing scandal, with Divina dragged into the center of it.

Divina is an alumnus belonging to Aegis Juris fraternity, whose 10 members are in jail and facing trial for the hazing death of freshman law student Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

Asked for a message to students regarding hazing, Divina said on Thursday, “We have long discouraged and prohibited students from engaging in hazing.”

Criminal charges against Divina had been dropped by the Department of Justice (DOJ), but he and 20 other lawyers face a disbarment probe at the SC.

A Senate panel recommended their disbarment for allegedly covering up the hazing, and failing to take the necessary actions to prevent Castillo’s death.

IN MOURNING. UST students and faculty light candles as they offer prayers for Horacio 'Atio' Castillo III on campus, September 18, 2017. File photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

Castillo’s mother Carmina vowed to pursue other means to hold Divina and other fraternity members accountable.

“I have no message to the UST Law management, maybe to the students. Congratulations to the Bar passers, we encourage them to stay true and live according to their oath,” Carmina said.

She added that she “cried buckets” when she watched news of the Bar results on Thursday. (READ: ‘Negligence’ of UST officials partly led to Castillo’s death – senators)

“It’s that one thing I will never experience. A son calling me and telling me, ‘Ma, I passed.’ That feeling I will never feel,” said Carmina.

I envy the parents. It hurts.” – Rappler.com


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Lian Buan

Lian Buan is a senior investigative reporter, and minder of Rappler's justice, human rights and crime cluster.