HomeNewsJesuit lawyer-priest, 'constitutionalist' Joaquin Bernas dies at 88

Jesuit lawyer-priest, ‘constitutionalist’ Joaquin Bernas dies at 88

His death came two days after he was discharged from a hospital where he was admitted for more than a month due to an “infection”

Filipino Jesuit lawyer, professor, and writer Joaquin Bernas died on Saturday, March 6, at the age of 88.

He was “Dean Emeritus” of the Ateneo de Manila Law School and was a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Philippine Constitution.

Father Bernas died at the Jesuit residence at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.

His death came two days after he was discharged from a hospital where he was admitted for more than a month due to an “infection.”

“Father Bernie has been diagnosed with an infection that will need about six weeks of treatment,” said Father Emmanuel Alfonso of the Jesuit Communications.

In a statement, the Ateneo Law School mourned the passing of the priest who kept the institution “true to its identity and calling.”

“The [school]’s debt of gratitude to Father Bernas can never truly be fully repaid,” said the school’s dean Jose Maria Holifeña in a statement.

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The school has also named an institute for continuing legal education after the Jesuit priest.

Father Bernas earned 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.

In 1962, he received his Bachelor of Laws degree from Ateneo de Manila Law School and placed ninth in the Bar examinations given that year.

Bernas had a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from Woodstock College in 1966, Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridical Science from New York University in 1965 and 1968, respectively.

He began teaching at Ateneo de Manila Law School in 1966. He served as Dean twice from 1972 to 1976 and from 2000 to 2004. He was president of Ateneo de Manila University from 1984 to 1993.

Upon his retirement as dean of the school in 2004, Father Bernas was conferred the position of “Dean Emeritus.” He continued to teach Constitutional Law and Public International Law to first year and second year students.

He was a member of the constitutional commission formed by former Philippine President Corazon Aquino in 1986, a provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in the Philippines from 1976 to 1982, rector of the Jesuit Residence from 1994 to 2000, and a director of the Philippine Stock Exchange.

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