Press Release
May 3, 2017

Koko to Bar topnotchers, passers: "Contribute to regional development"

Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Wednesday congratulated the country's 3,747 new lawyers and urged them to practice their profession in their home provinces so they could contribute to economic development where it is needed most.

Pimentel, who obtained his law degree from the University of the Philippines College of Law and topped the Bar in 1990, also lauded this year's bar topnotchers -- all of whom graduated from law schools outside Metro Manila.

"This is historic, and while I commiserate with my alma mater for not having produced a Bar topnotcher this year, I think this is a positive sign for legal education in the Philippines as a whole, as it will encourage more prospective law students from Visayas and Mindanao to study closer to home," said Pimentel, who was born in Cagayan De Oro.

This year's Bar topnotcher is Karen Calam from the University of San Carlos, Cebu, who obtained a score of 89.05%. She was followed by the product of another Visayan law school, Alanna Gayle Ashley Khio from Dumaguete City's Silliman University, who scored 88.95%. Getting the third-highest score were Fiona Cristy Lao of the University of San Carlos and Athalia Liong of Andres Bonifacio College, Dipolog City, who both scored 88.80%.

Rounding up the list of Bar topnotchers are graduates from the University of San Agustin (Iloilo City), Ateneo De Davao University (Davao City), Northwestern University (Laoag City), and the University of Batangas (Batangas City).

The University of San Carlos led all law schools with a total of four topnotchers, followed by Silliman University with three.

"I believe that this year's Bar results highlight the fact that the Philippines is not Metro Manila alone, and that the best and the brightest of the country can be found in the provinces outside the capital," said the senator from Mindanao.

According to Pimentel, "this is a sign -- a sign that we really should focus on bringing development to the regions. And I believe our 3,747 new lawyers can help in this regard."

Pimentel said he was confident that with President Rodrigo Duterte's marching orders to focus on accelerating regional development, many of the country's new lawyers will have plenty of opportunities in their provinces.

"While I recognize that at present most of the opportunities for lawyers can be found in Metro Manila, I encourage our new lawyers to look forward, give back to their home towns, and help the government bring progress and prosperity to their provinces."

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