MANILA - More than 200,000 aspiring and current government workers took the civil service exam in testing centers across the Philippines, Sunday morning.
The exam went through despite earlier plans by the Civil Service Commission (CSC), which administers the test, to postpone following inclement weather.
In Metro Manila alone, 75 testing centers, most of them schools, opened their doors to examinees as early as 6 a.m., two hours before the exam.
Many examinees are fresh graduates, who need to pass the exam to enter public service.
Board and Bar exam passers, as well as honor graduates, are exempted from the exam.
The civil service exam covers language and numerical skills as well as knowledge of the Philippine constitution, ethical standards for public officials and employees, environmental management and protection, and peace and human rights issues.
It has two categories: a professional test for college graduates; and a subprofessional test for those who have not finished or are still finishing tertiary education.
For other examinees, it is their repeat instance to take the exam, hoping this is their year to pass. The test is also required for promotion, especially for those who already joined government before taking the exam.
Special testing centers were also opened for persons with special needs.
CSC employees assisted the visually impaired and people who cannot hold writing implements as they answered the test.
While the exam began at 8 a.m., gates at the testing centers were closed 30 minutes before that, shutting out some prospective examinees -- a practice the CSC has been doing since last year.
In Metro Manila, more than 6,000 or 11% of expected examinees were unable to take Sunday's test.
Those who missed the exam have to retake it in the next run.
Failure to take the examination shall mean forfeiture of examination fee and slot, and the CSC will not allow any re-scheduling.
CSC commissioner Aileen Lizada said the earlier cutoff gives examiners time to take care of administrative matters before the actual test, such as laying out guidelines and signing a seat plan.
The signing of the seat plan is intended to weed out cheaters, such as those who take the test in place of others.
However, consideration was still given to examinees with medical reasons or those stranded by flooding, Lizada said.
"If you are really serious in what you want to do, you will prepare for it. And the first sign is if you are there on time. You're entering government service," she said.
During the written civil service exam in March, 27,944 examinees or only 10.57 percent of more than 260,000 examinees passed. --With Fred Cipres and Hernel Tocmo, ABS-CBN News