Watcher suspended for taking photos of Bar exams

By Evelyn Macairan, The Philippine Star

Posted at Apr 20 2014 09:27 AM | Updated as of Apr 20 2014 07:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Supreme Court suspended a Court of Appeals (CA) clerk for a month and a day after he was found guilty of bringing a digital camera and taking photographs of Bar exam questionnaires when he was head watcher in 2011.

In a six-page resolution issued April 1 and penned by SC Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the justices found Melchor Tiongson – who holds the rank of Clerk IV – guilty of committing simple misconduct for violating instructions to head watchers issued by the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC).

Aside from suspending Tiongson, the SC also permanently disqualified him from serving as Bar personnel, in any capacity, in succeeding Bar examinations and warned him that repeating a similar act would be dealt with more severely.

Originally, the OBC recommended that the CA employee was found guilty of dishonesty and gross misconduct, but the SC downgraded his offense to simple misconduct.

“We hold Tiongson liable for simple misconduct only, because the elements of grave misconduct were not proven with substantial evidence, and Tiongson admitted his infraction before the OBC,” the high court said.

The resolution did not state why Tiongson had taken photographs of the civil law and mercantile law questionnaires.

The justices also took into consideration in imposing the penalty Tiongson’s 14 years of service in the CA, more than 10 years of service in the Bar examination and his first time to commit an infraction as mitigating circumstances.