The Supreme Court launched last July 15 the Bar Personalized Login Unified System (Bar PLUS) website to facilitate applications for the 2020/2021 Bar Examinations this coming November.
At the time of its launch, applicants were directed to pay for their Bar application fee via over-the-counter cash deposit in Landbank branches nationwide.
This August, applicants now also have the additional option to pay the Bar application fee online through the Landbank Link.Biz portal and the Judiciary ePayment Solutions.
The Landbank Link.Biz Portal was launched last August 4, 2021 and has the following payment options:
- Landbank/OFBank ATM Accounts,
- BancNet member-bank ATM/Debit Accounts,
- Cash Payment Options via Partner Collection Outlets, and
- PCHC PayGate member-banks.
The Judiciary ePayment System is powered by Union Bank Pay (UPay), and allows for the following payment options:
- Union Bank Online Banking Services;
- PayGate participating banks;
- Instapay participating banks; and
- Pesonet participating banks.
Bar applicants will also soon have the option of using Visa and Mastercard debit cards and credit cards to pay the fee.
The Judiciary ePayment Solutions was integrated into Bar PLUS last August 12, 2021.
The online payment options of the bar application fee are in line with the objective of SC justice Marvic Leonen, chairperson of the 2020/2021 Bar Examinations, to make the localized and digitalized exam more accessible, and less costly, as well as compliant with safety and health protocols imposed by the Covid-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The SC said the current amount of the Bar application fee is an effort to make the 2020/2021 Bar Examinations more equitable as it allows for the conduct of the exam in local testing centers, and evens out the spending of all Bar applicants, many of whom spend large amounts on transportation costs, board and lodging, and other expenses.
The effort to lessen the travelling for the exam is also meant to reduce the carbon footprint of the Bar examinations, the high court said.
In March this year, the SC signed a Memorandum of Agreement with UnionBank for the latter to develop an ePayment solution for the Judiciary. The MOA was approved with the objective of streamlining the processes of assessment and payment of court fees, increasing transparency, accountability, and accessibility of the public to judicial services, and providing the SC with efficient accounting and auditing mechanisms.
The Judiciary ePayment Solutions, open to all banks and their account holders, is an application designed to provide the SC and all the courts in the country the option to receive fees and payments digitally from litigants, their counsels, and representatives on a safe, secure, real-time, and 24/7 basis from anywhere at their convenience. It involves an automated tool that will allow authorized judiciary personnel to process and manage payment related activities swiftly and efficiently.
The MOA with Union Bank is only the first of what the SC hopes would be a continuing partnership with banking institutions. The SC said it would continue to enter into other agreement with other banks or financial institutions to better achieve its objectives.