SC allows non-PhiLSAT passers to enroll in law schools for now, subject to next exam

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2019 11:59 AM | Updated as of Mar 18 2019 06:14 PM

MANILA - The temporary restraining order issued by the Supreme Court on Friday did not entirely remove the Philippine Law School Admission Test (PhiLSAT) as a requirement for enrollment in law schools, based on a copy of the TRO released by the high tribunal on Monday.

Rather, it allowed aspiring law students who have not taken or who have not passed PhiLSAT to conditionally enroll in the law school of their own choice but still subject to taking and passing the next scheduled qualifying exam. 

“Those who have not taken the PhiLSAT prior to the beginning of the Academic Year 2018 to 2019, or who have taken the PhiLSAT but did not pass, or are honor graduates in college with no PhilSAT (sic) Exemption Certificate, or honor graduates with expired PhiLSAT Exemption Certificates may now be allowed to conditionally enroll as incoming freshmen law students under the same terms as LEB Memorandum No. 11, series of 2017,” the order said.

Legal Education Board (LEB) Memorandum Order No. 11 allows students who have not yet passed the PhiLSAT to conditionally enroll provided that they take the next scheduled PhiLSAT.

But LEB Memorandum Circular No. 18 issued in June 2018 took away the conditional enrolment. 

That same LEB memorandum is the subject of the SC’s TRO.

“You, respondents, your agents, representatives, or persons acting in your place or stead, are hereby commanded and directed to cease and desist from implementing the Legal Education Board (LEB) Memorandum Circular No. 18 dated June 8, 2018, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court,” the order said.

PhiLSAT is the standardized national qualifying exam for admission to law schools imposed by the LEB.

Two groups had filed separate petitions before the high court questioning the validity of RA 7662, the law which created the LEB, and the LEB issuances imposing PhiLSAT.

Petitioners claimed PhiLSAT hinders aspiring law students from enrolling in law schools and encroaches upon the SC’s constitutional power to promulgate rules concerning admission to the practice of law by imposing an additional requirement for the practice of law -- a qualifying exam for law schools.

They also argued PhiLSAT violates academic freedom as it interferes with the right of a law school to determine whom to admit as students.