By NITZ ARANCON
XAVIER University missed out the name of one of its law graduates who passed the 2017 bar examinations. Incidentally, the bar passer turned out to be the same man who resigned from city hall last year amid allegations of extortion.
Fr. Roberto Yap, Xavier’s president, revised his April 27, 2018 memorandum to add the man’s name to the university’s list of bar passers: John Laro.
Laro’s inclusion in the list increased to 14 the number of Xavier law graduates who passed the 2017 bar exams, and the number of examinees from the Jesuit-run institution to 34.
The XU Communications Group said Laro, a “bar repeater,” graduated from XU in 1998.
“His name was initially missed out from the list of XU passers because he didn’t enlist himself as an examinee at the [XU] College of Law, for the November 2017 Bar Exams. The XU Law admin had to contact him (and his profs before) and our Registrar to confirm his graduation,” reads part of an explanation e-mailed to this paper by the XU Communications Group.
Laro now joins the official list of Xavier’s 2017 bar passers that include Shayne Amor Bance, Junnieson Boniel, Cyril Francis Casiño, Kevin Jay Celestiano, Precy Jade Cheng, Paula Jane Flor, Julie Rose Lapinig, Katherine Christy Ligcuban, Lovely Melchita Macario, Ayesha Ryka Mauyag, Jaysie Micabalo, Angelica Mortola, and Lariza Aidie Ugsod. Like Laro, three others were listed as retakers: Casiño who graduated in 1993, Celestiano in 2013, and Mortola in 2010.
But there is more to Laro than just being the XU Law graduate who was inadvertently excluded from Fr. Yap’s original memorandum. In 2017, he resigned as a special investigator under the City Legal Office following an entrapment in Barangay Macabalan that resulted in his arrest for alleged extortion.
The accusation against Laro prompted Mayor Oscar Moreno to place him under “floating” status.
Macabalan’s police chief at that time, Chief Insp. Ernesto Daeng, said the entrapment was carried out based on the complaint of one Rosalie Castillo, operator of the Nellits Carnival and Amusement Center at Celrai, Macabalan.
Castillo had alleged that Laro asked P10 thousand for a business permit. For unclear reasons, Castillo subsequently withdrew her complaint against Laro, prompting the prosecutor’s office to dismiss it.
Dismayed, Mayor Moreno had directed Laro to report for work at the Office of the City Mayor’s Office pending the results of an investigation by the city administrator’s office. No administrative sanction was made because Laro opted to resign.
Just before the entrapment, Moreno said, he was about to approve Lara’s application for a six-month leave of absence because the then city hall employee had planned to review for the 2017 bar exams.
On local radio on Friday night, Moreno congratulated Lara, saying that he remembered advising his then subordinate to take the bar exams when they discussed the city hall employee’s resignation last year.
“Congratulations sa iya (Lara) kay ako gyud siya nga gidasig kaniya nga mag-take sa bar exams,” Moreno said.
Meanwhile, Xavier acknowledged two more bar passers from the “XU Law in Zamboanga”: Rhea Doll Gonzalo and Ann Loraine Tam.
Although officially recorded under Xavier University, Gonzalo and Tam gave Ateneo de Zamboanga University’s passing rate of 2/2 or 100 percent in the 2017 bar exams, said Fr. Yap.
Gonzalo ranked No. 15 among the 1,724 bar passers throughout the country.
Reads part of Yap’s memorandum: “ADZU Law is officially accredited by the Legal Education Board as ‘XU Law in Zamboanga’, hence the performance of ADZU examinees is recorded officially under Xavier University.”
Yap said when ADZU applied to start a law program in 2011, there was a moratorium by the Legal Education Board on authorizing new schools to offer law. The Board however granted Xavier the authority to establish a branch in order to conduct and operate a law program at the campus of ADZU in Zamboanga City.
While the dean of the College of Law in Zamboanga is the same dean of of the XU College of Law in Cagayan de Oro, the faculty who teach there are lawyers based in Zamboanga, said Yap.
But because of the setup, the students at that branch are officially registered as students of XU College of Law and when they successfully complete the program. Yap said they are considered graduates of XU. “Hence when they take the bar examinations, they are registered as XU graduates and their bar performance is officially recorded under XU.”
However, Yap said that in announcements by XU about bar results, XU carefully distinguishes the performance of students who studied at XU in Cagayan de Oro from the students who studied at the XU branch at ADZU in Zamboanga.