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Biz Buzz: Fib or fraud?

/ 05:14 AM September 20, 2017

Fame and ambition can be a bad mix nowadays. This is especially so if you’re the dean of the country’s top law school—OK, maybe ONE of the top law schools (otherwise, this debate will never end)—set to assume a higher position.

In a high visibility (and highly coveted) job like the one this person is about to take, one can be sure some eagle-eyed critics will be poring over his credentials and fact-checking every single line.

And so it happened that some eagle-eyed lawyers who are obviously not fans of “The Dean” went over his curriculum vitae and found something interesting. In particular, page four of his seven-page CV says he was a “topnotcher” in the bar examinations given on the year he graduated from law school.

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Not satisfied, these lawyers Googled him up and were led to his profile page displayed prominently on the website of this top law school (ONE of the top law schools in the country, we emphasize), and there was that claim again: “a topnotcher in the bar examinations given that year.”

Well and good. But here’s the thing: a check with several online resources about bar topnotchers in the year he took the exam, and even the years following it, didn’t show The Dean’s name in the top 10.

In fact, on the year he said he took the bar exams, only three examinees from his law school landed in the top 10, and he certainly wasn’t one of them, according to these records.

Now his critics are asking why this Dean even needs to make what they call “bogus claims” given his many genuine achievements, including having received a prestigious scholarship in London.

“Why foist this fraud upon his peers in the profession, his students and the Filipino public?” one of them asked.

And they couldn’t have asked this question at a more interesting time. This law dean will have his investiture today, Sept. 20, as the president of the entire university he works for—a promotion from simply being the dean of its law school. (We should point out that the race for the presidency of this university has often been contentious and sometimes politicized.)

But for the members of the legal community who are no big fans of the Dean, the investiture ceremony “will be used further to perpetuate” his unsubstantiated claims.

“It sets a bad example to the youth who aspire to this grand profession, and who themselves dream of becoming genuine bar topnotchers in the future,” one said, noting that this was just one of the latest examples of bogus titles claimed by public figures.

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Such bogus titles include an Oxford bachelor’s degree and a Wharton master’s degree claimed by a prominent politician. Incidentally, and as pointed out by these critics — law partners from several leading law firms based in Makati and Taguig — the Dean’s first job was as an assemblyman representing a loyalist group during the country’s pre-1986 national legislature.

But hey, maybe the dean just has a different definition of “topnotcher,” right? Top 30 or top 40 examinees, perhaps? —DAXIM L. LUCAS

Reinventing RWM

Following the rampage by gambling addict Jessie Carlos at Resorts World Manila (RWM) in June, an unfortunate event that resulted in the death of 38 people including himself, the integrated gaming resort is starting to regain its footing. Daily foot traffic has improved to 25,000-26,000, albeit still lower than the 28,000 people who visited daily before a gun-toting Carlos set gambling tables on the second floor of the casino on fire before shooting himself in a Maxim’s suite.

To sweep away bad vibes, developer and operator Travellers International Hotel Group stopped gaming operations on the second floor. The space will instead be converted to become part of the shopping mall.

Travellers has, of course, taken a hit following the suspension of its gaming operations for about a month and the reduction in gaming space now that the (RWM) second floor (previously devoted to premium mass market) has become idle.

“That’s why we’re rushing phase 3 (development). We’re looking to open in the first quarter of next year but there’s a chance we can soft-open in late December,” president and chief executive Kingson Sian said yesterday on the sidelines of Alliance Global Group Inc.’s stockholders meeting. “That should augment at least what we’ve lost at the second floor. The first (for the mass market) and third (for VIP) floors have gone back to normal operations.”

Once the new phase of RWM expansion is completed, the integrated gaming resort will have a total of 650 tables and 4,000 gaming machines.

But what will become of the room in the 172-room all-suite Maxim’s Hotel where Carlos shot himself? The hotel has decided to give up all 12 rooms on that hotel floor where Carlos retreated before shooting himself.

Furthermore, Maxim’s will soon have to give way to a new brand as the entire hotel will be reinvented.

“Maxims is entering its eighth year so we have plans of renovating the entire hotel anyway. So we will start renovating by early next year and we will rebrand,” Sian said, adding that a new brand would be announced soon.

Even the 712-room Remington Hotel, the group’s budget hotel brand within RWM, will be rebranded as Holiday Inn Express. Although not affected by the rampage, the hotel is due for renovation and since Travellers is spending to spruce up the hotel anyway, it decided to bring an international brand to be able to unlock better values from the hotel’s high occupancy rate.

All the hotels in the complex continued to enjoy high occupancy averaging over 90 percent, likewise benefiting from the series of Asean meetings.

RWM has moved on from the June tragedy. “The proof is in the numbers,” Sian said. —DORIS DUMLAO-ABADILLA

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TAGS: bar examinations, dean, Jessie Carlos, law school, Resorts World Manila (RWM), topnotcher
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