June 21, 2024

Despite the emotional turmoil that his family went through, Zoroaster Bolinget, son of red-tagged activist Windel Bolinget is one of the 8,241 who passed the 2020-2021 bar examination.
The 27-year-old Bolinget, who also passed the Certified Public Accountant board examination in 2014, completed his Juris Doctor degree at the University of the Cordilleras in 2020.
Studying and reviewing for the Bar was in itself a challenge but the distress brought about by the red-tagging by the Philippine National Police proved all the more challenging for Bolinget’s family. 
“The mental distress was intense. However, our family had each other and was never divided. My relatives and friends were there to support us,” Bolinget said.
His father, Windel, is the chairperson of the Cordillera People’s Alliance, who has been tagged as a member of the New People’s Army.
The allegation further caused emotional distress to the family when his father was suspected as one of the killers of Lumad leader Garito Tiklonay Malibato on March 22, 2018 in Davao del Norte. Despite never setting foot in Davao del Norte, the older Bolinget was charged with murder, along with nine other individuals in Tagum City.
To make matters worse, the PNP released wanted posters bearing the older Bolinget’s face and a P100,000 bounty for his arrest.  
The older Bolinget’s name was dropped from the murder charges in July 2021.
The younger Bolinget said they initially feared for their lives especially with posts on social media revealing the faces of him and his siblings, tagging them as NPA supporters with their father. 
“I continued my review. I persevered and devoted my time to my studies and readings despite the situation,” he said.
For the safety of their family, his father submitted himself to the National Bureau of Investigation in 2021, stating it was not an act of surrender or an admission of guilt but to have full access to all legal services available while under NBI protection. 
Throughout the ordeal that his family went through, Bolinget said this pushed him all the more to become a lawyer. 
“I took up law because I want to serve the people. Injustice is happening everywhere, and I would love to be part of the community to mitigate or to prevent it. I love the law and in applying them to real life,” he said.
Now looking forward, Bolinget said he wants to bring back to the community and aspires to work under the Public Attorney’s Office.  
Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, chairperson of the 2020-2021 Bar exam, reported 8,241 out of 11,402 examinees passed. This is equivalent to a passing rate of 72.28 percent. – Ofelia C. Empian