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REFLECTIONS: My life after the 2019 bar exams

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 02 May) — If there were grievous mistakes I made within my lifetime, one of these was when I thrice attempted to join the legal profession by taking the bar examinations, but miserably failed.

The opportunity for me to study law came when I was 39 years old. It was the height of my activism, and my own brand of activism stalled my law studies for more than a decade.

Finally, I finished law at the MSU College of Law in General Santos City at 55 years old. I took the bar examinations, for the third time, in 2019, at age 62.

When I first heard the news that I failed to hurdle the 2019 bar examinations, it was only then that I realized my unfitness to become a member of the Philippine Bar.

It was also during that time when it dawned on me that the legal profession is reserved solely for people who possess an above-average intelligence quotients (IQ), as a minimum requirement.

There are abundant factual bases for my mental unworthiness to become a member of the legal profession, which I failed to take into account.

When I took the National Comprehensive Entrance Examination which then had a passing average of 80%, I only got a weighted average of 81%.

When I took the Civil Service Sub-professional Examination which then had a passing average of 70%, I only got a weighted average of 72%.

When I took the Civil Service Professional Examination which then had a passing average of 75%, I only got a weighted average of 76%.

Finally, when I studied in the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), all of us were subjected to psychiatric tests during the winding off period of the entire course.

In that psychiatric test, my IQ was leveled at a moderate- average category.

I should have given sufficient consideration to all these given facts before I made myself undergo quite savage recriminations, courtesy of my law professors for five long years; almost three years of torturous review for three bar examinations, and three months of a traumatic life for three bar examinations.

Perhaps, my life’s struggle to survive my own cruel world had made me arrogant enough not to consider my mental factor, and clear proofs for its destitute state.

Some of my friends were expressing their disbelief of me not passing the bar exams because they consider me “a very intelligent man.”

Now, it is time to let the cat out of the bag.

In all these years of my struggle to survive an oppressed life, I have been successful in mastering the art of appearing intelligent before the public eye, a feat which I consider elemental in my social campaign and advocacy works, especially in the dangerous fight against extra-judicial killings.

Also, one of the important things I realized is this: the bar examinations are not all about knowing the law.

A bar examinee must be endowed with a sharp IQ to enable him/her to quickly identify the legal point that an examiner wants to let out in asking a question.

As I now realized, it takes a lot of IQ to do this, under time pressure.

Most, if not all people, gave me advice to pray, for accordingly, prayers help. Candidly, I prayed hard, but it did not work for me.

Probably, despite my moral posturing as a labor and human rights defender, the Omnipotent God, who sees through the deepest recesses of our hearts and minds, knows that I have some bad intentions in my quest to become a lawyer.

As soon as I was informed that I failed in the 2019 bar examinations, I immediately gathered my law books and I, again, started reading.

I would like to clarify, however, that, in doing so; I do not have any intention anymore to retake the bar for the fourth time.

I am no longer physically well to undergo the rigors of spending another year of my life inside the classroom of the MSU College of Law, and to have a repeat of my traumatic bar experiences.

I only need to advance my knowledge of legal procedures, labor laws, criminal laws, agrarian laws, and fishery laws, environmental laws, laws on indigenous people’s rights and laws on human rights.

I need all these to continue with my campaign and advocacy for the advancement and protection of the rights of vulnerable sections of society, with the aid of my very limited privileges as a layman and as a volunteer para-legal in many progressive and activist movements.

I will explore, to the utmost, the innate power that Divine Providence has given to human beings as a matter birthright. This innate power is, I think, sufficient enough to aid me in my continuing search for the meaning of life.

[MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Ben Sumog-oy is a volunteer para-legal of the Sentro ng mga nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (Sentro) and Action Officer of the In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (IDEFEND), General Santos City and head of the Local Mass Struggle (LMS) Unit of Akbayan, General Santos City]

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