Saturday, November 06, 2004

Re-computation of a bar examinee's grade

Re-computation of a bar examinee's grade

Updated 10:27pm (Mla time) Nov 05, 2004
By Isagani Cruz
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A14 of the November 6, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

A STUDENT of mine in the College of Law of the University of Perpetual Help in Las PiƱas was given a final rating of 74.9980 percent in the 2003 bar examinations and was considered flunked. That was the year when the examination in Mercantile Law was invalidated because of a leakage and the 15 percent weight of that subject was pro rata distributed among the remaining 7 other subjects. The Office of the Bar Confidant computed the final grades of the examinee up to the second decimal point only, giving her .0020 percent less than the passing average of 75 percent.

The student filed a petition for the re-computation of her grades and showed that the Bar Confidant had rounded off the relative weight of the 7 subjects to only the second decimal point, resulting in her getting less than the required final rating. She showed by her own computation that "tabulation of the relative weight up to the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and tenth decimal places and/or the consequential general weighted average of herein Petitioner" would show an average of at least 75 percent and make her pass the bar examinations for that year. She attached a copy of said tabulation.

Ruling on her petition, the Supreme Court "resolved, upon recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant to DENY the request of Petitioner (name withheld by me to spare the student embarrassment) for mathematical re-computation of her grades in the 2003 Bar examinations, considering that the results of the Bar examinations are final and irrevocable."

The petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration saying that she was not asking for a re-correction of her papers or a re-checking of her examination booklets but a re-computation of her final grade not by rounding it off to the second decimal point only but "up to the fifth decimal place as it would substantially affect the Relative Weight and Product for each subject used in determining her final rating."

Included in her motion was a comprehensive mathematical discussion of the correct process of determining the final grades of the examinees, particularly hers which the Bar Confidant fixed at 74.0080 percent. This was not rounded off to 75 percent despite the minuscule .0020 percent difference. She also cited the cases of In re Victorio D. Lenuevo, A.C. No. 1162, Aug. 29, 1975, regarding the functions of the Bar Confidant, and In re Felipe del Rosario, 52 Phil. 399, decided on Dec. 7, 1928, where the Supreme Court granted an examinee's motion for the re-computation of his grades on the ground of error.

"Herein petitioner does not wish to disrespect this Honorable Court but merely seeks its reconsideration due to her sincere belief that there must be a precise methodical analysis used in determining her General Weighted Average due to the peculiar circumstances that occurred in the 2003 Bar examinations." She also pleaded for the "compassion of this honorable Court to exercise its discretionary judicial function" to grant the mathematical re-computation of her general weighted average.

I assume the Court considered her arguments carefully, but her motion was just the same "denied and final." It was at this time that I learned of my student's case and felt that it deserved a more careful study from the tribunal en banc. To this end, I called on Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide Jr. and pleaded for a realistic and compassionate approach to the student's problem, considering the microscopic deficiency that prevented her passing, let alone the fact that she would have passed if the Bar Confidant had not rounded off the computation at the second decimal place only although she would not round off the final average to 75 percent. Even assuming that the petitioner's own computation was not acceptable, I said, a spirit of compassion could have softened the harsh and inflexible ruling of the Court without offense to the quality of justice.

I had the impression that Chief Justice Davide agreed with me and considered the case meritorious. He said he would take it up with the banc. The case was calendared, reset for a number of reasons, among them the absence of many members on official leave, until it was finally decided some time ago.

I went to see the Chief Justice in his office, where he informed me that the Court was unwilling to reconsider its original decision. I was disappointed, of course, but I saw no need to further argue the case. I am familiar with the mind-set of the Court and will not waste my time when I am convinced that it is determined to persist in error.

I thought to myself that this was a wonderful opportunity for Chief Justice Davide to rectify a wrongful ruling, as a leader should, but I suppose he was bound by the traditions of the Court. I am glad that I never allowed myself to be bound by such inhibitions whenever I felt them to be against compassion as an essential ingredient of justice.

I am proud to remember Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa's compliment to me during my retirement program, where he spoke of my "understanding of human frailty that would temper the harshness of the law with compassion whenever possible..." I regret that the present Supreme Court does not have that redeeming virtue.


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