2019 Bar topnotchers share scenes during ‘historic’ online oath-taking ceremony

June 26, 2020 - 5:27 PM
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This composite photo shows 2019 Bar topnotchers Mae Diane Azores and Kenneth Glenn Manuel. (Twitter/Mae Diane Azores, The STAR/Edd Gumban)

For the first time in the Philippine Bar oath-taking history, new lawyers took their oaths virtually.

The Supreme Court approved the online oath-taking ceremony of the 2019 Bar examination passers last month, citing that the “current health crisis and COVID-19 pandemic made it not possible to hold the oath-taking ceremony the traditional way.”

The oath-taking ceremony was held via video conference and was linked to a government television network for broadcast.

More than 2,000 new lawyers took their oaths online on Thursday, including two of the most notable 2019 Bar exam passers, topnotchers Mae Diane Azores and Kenneth Glenn Manuel.

2019 Bar topnotcher Azores shared a picture of her participating in the virtual ceremony on Twitter which has gained over 8,300 likes, more than 700 retweets as well as dozens of congratulatory comments.

“Today, we made history as the first batch of lawyers who took their oath virtually. Tomorrow, we will change the future by resisting injustice and being at the front lines in our fight for the cause of the poor, the disenfranchised, oppressed and the vulnerable,” she tweeted.

Azores also included the hashtag #BernaBar2019 in reference to the 2019 Bar chair, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Estela Bernabe.

Azores scored 91.049% in the 2019 Bar exams. She took up law at the University of Santo Tomas-Legazpi and is also a certified public accountant.

The topnotcher was also one of those who helped the previously-detained jeepney drivers known as “Piston 6” who were arrested for supposed quarantine violations after protesting for their livelihood.

READ: Bar 2019 topnotcher offers help to free 6 detained jeepney drivers

Manuel, the sixth placer on the 2019 Bar topnotchers list, on the other hand, also earned online buzz as pictures of him attending the virtual oath-taking in his apartment surfaced online.

Manuel previously jested that the “advantage” of taking an oath virtually is he can do it without taking a shower.

He then tweeted pictures of him wearing a robe, complete with a suit and tie.

In a tweet, Manuel shared a video of him hiding a jar of Nutella, a chocolate spread, inside a cabinet as part of his preparations.

He also shared a screenshot of the virtual oath-taking with his fellow Bar topnotchers, where he was captured drinking.

Manuel previously gained traction on local Twitter under the hashtag “Sir K” that trended after he reached the top 6 of the 2019 Bar examinations.

He is fondly called as “Sir K” by Filipino online users who claim that he is their inspiration for his “perseverance” in studies. Some of them are his students.

Last year, Manuel went viral for his graduation post on Facebook where he shared his struggles during his four years at UST Law school.

‘Resist injustice’

The online oath-taking ceremony was live streamed on state-run People’s Television Network.

It was presided by the Supreme Court who admitted 2,103 passers on the country’s roll of attorneys.

Bernabe challenged the fresh batch of lawyers to utilize their profession to “help society cope and move forward.”

She stressed that it is now more than ever that the legal profession needs their “youthful exuberance, proficiency in new technologies and interconnected sense of community.”

Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, the chair of the next Bar, also gained traction on local Twitter for his rousing speech in which he challenged the new lawyers to “be better” than their seniors and to make it their “passion to resist injustice.”

“Your oath to the rule of law is not an oath of surrender to the unjust and oppressive elements of the status quo. It is not license to further marginalize those who are disadvantaged, those who are poor, those who are abused by power and untruths. Your oath serves as your power to bring about change that is hopefully just, hopefully systemic,” Leonen said.

“Protect those who have less in life. Do not stand for abuse. Be accepting of different identities. Speak up against corruption. Do not succumb to having more than enough. Do not trade kindness for the false badges of success,” he added.

Rights lawyer Chel Diokno, also the Dean for the College of Law of De La Salle University, congratulated his fellow lawyers and reminded them to “defend the oppressed and make sure that no one is above the law.”

“Go and build a better house of justice for our people!” he tweeted.