Senate pays tribute to noted constitutionalist, Fr. Joaquin Bernas

Published March 8, 2021, 7:10 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The Senate on Monday adopted a resolution expressing its profound sympathy and sincere condolences on the demise of Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, who passed away last Saturday at the age of 88.

Fr. Joaquin Bernas (SJ Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

Senate Resolution No. 674, taking into consideration Senate Resolution No. 675, was unanimously adopted on Monday, March 8, 2021.

The resolutions were introduced by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III and Sen. Richard J. Gordon, respectively.

The resolution honored Fr. Bernas for his “immeasurable and invaluable contributions to the legal profession and society.”

The Jesuit priest was a notable constitutionalist and one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution.

“We salute you for a life of service and devotion to God, the Rule of Law and your countrymen, Fr. Joaquin Bernas,” Sotto said in his sponsorship speech.

He described Fr. Bernas as a man with a “strong sense of morals and ethics who was humble and calm, exuding authority even in his silence.”

Sotto said the Jesuit priest had willingly responded to the call of legal and moral duty to protect democracy and human rights unmindful of his own physical well-being.

He said Fr. Bernas’ unblemished devotion and faith in God and the Rule of Law had helped rebuild the country through his teachings, writings, and leadership.

“His death is great a loss not only to his Atenean family and to the legal profession but to the Filipino people and the nation as well,” Sotto said.

For his part, Gordon said Father Bernas was a not only a lawyer, a man of cloth, an educator and a counselor but he was also a friend.

He stated that Fr. Bernas would often be called to court to share his wisdom on complex and novel constitutional issues.

Fr. Bernas resolved some key legal issues of national significance, he pointed out.

“Father Bernas was a dedicated educator who shared his knowledge and expertise on political and constitutional laws to young law students, inspiring them to become excellent public servants and legal practitioners,” Gordon said.

He recommended that a copy of the resolution be given to the family of Fr. Bernas.

Born on July 8, 1932, Fr. Bernas was ordained as Jesuit priest on June 10,1965.

He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Latin, and Greek Classics and Master of Arts degree in Philosophy from Berchmans College in 1956 and 1957, respectively.

Bachelor of Laws degree from Ateneo de Manila Law School in 1962 and placed 9th in the bar examinations given that year.

He got his Licentiate of Sacred Theology from Woodstock College in 1966, and Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science from New York University in 1965 and 1968, respectively.

Fr. Bernas taught at the Ateneo de Manila Law School in 1966 and served in various capacities inside and outside of the university, namely: as Dean of the Ateneo College of Arts and Sciences (1970-71), Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines (1976 to 1982), Dean of Ateneo Law School (1972 to 1976 and 2000 to 2004), Member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution, 28th President of the Ateneo de Manila University (1984 to 1993), Rector of the Jesuit Residence (1994 to 2000), Dean Emeritus of the Ateneo School of Law upon his retirement in 2004, and Director of the Philippine Stock Exchange.

 
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