SC strikes off PhilSAT as required nat'l law school entrance test

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court declared as unconstitutional the enforcement of the national law school entrance test, or Philippine Law School Admission Test (PhilSAT) as a requirement to admission to law schools, in the en banc's 107-page decision released Tuesday, December 3.

In the ponencia written by Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr, the en banc declared as unconstitutional the Legal Education Board or LEB's memorandum requiring the PhilSAT for being ultra vires or for having no authority.

Piloted in 2017, the LEB required that prospective law students pass PhilSAT first before they are admitted to law schools, notwithstanding if they pass the schools' respective entrance examinations.

"The PhilSAT actually usurps the right and duty of the law school to determine for itself the criteria for the admission of students and thereafter, to apply such criteria on a case-to-case basis," said the decision.

The Supreme Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against PhilSAT in March 2019, acting on a petition to declare not only the national law school test unconstitutional, but also the LEB itself.

The en banc also declared as unconstitutional the practice of the LEB in setting the qualifications for faculty members and deans for "violating the the institutional academic freedom on who may teach."

The en banc also struck off the following powers of the LEB for encroaching upon the power of the Court:

The en banc, however, upheld the jurisdiction of the LEB over legal education.

It also declared as constitutional the following powers of the LEB:

Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Andres Reyes Jr, Rosmari Carandang, Henri Jean Paul Inting and Rodil Zalameda concurred.

Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza, Alexander Gesmundo  and Amy Lazaro-Javier issued dissenting and concurring opinions.

Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta took no part in the voting. Associate Justice Ramon Paul Hernando was on official business. –

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.