• Melo Acuna

1987 ConCom member Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ dies at age 88

Constitutional expert and former Ateneo School of Law dean Joaquin Bernas, S.J. dies at age 88


MANILA – Respected legal luminary Jesuit Joaquin Bernas passed away today at age 88.


In a statement, Ateneo Law School Dean Jose Maria G, Hofileña said the former member of the 1987 Constitutional Commission passed away early this morning.


“We take solace in the knowledge that his was an earthly life filled with meaning and purpose. An earthly life dedicated to service, to standards of excellence, to the greater glory of God,” Dean Hofileña said.


Fr. Bernas was described as “a man, an excellent man, for others.” The late Jesuit “contributed immeasurably to keeping the Ateneo Law School true to its identify and calling” and the Law School’s debt of gratitude to Fr. Bernas “can never truly be fully repaid.”


Meanwhile, the Federation of Free Workers credited Fr. Bernas for his contributions to academic excellence and social justice.


In a statement, Atty. Sonny G. Matula, FFW president, said the Federation was associated with the Jesuit community since its founder, Fr. Walter Hogan, S.J. and Ateneo valedictorian Juan C. Tan began the movement in 1950.


Among Fr. Bernas’ contributions were Section 2 of Article II which says “The Philippines recognizes that international law has the force and effect of the domestic law under the ‘incorporation clause’” of the 1987 Constitution. He likewise added “International Conventions of the International Labour Organization such as ILO Convention No. 87 and Convention No. 98 can be used by the parties like the Labor Code, Civil Code, Penal Code and other acts of congress in the settlement of disputes in quasi-judicial bodies and regular courts.”


The FFW said Fr. Bernas lived and breathed the Catholic Social Teachings and his death coincides with the celebration of the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines with the theme, “Gifted to give,” which is surely an adage that this good man for others lived by.


Atty. Matula said Fr. Bernas’ works for social justice and the cause of labor were reflected in the 1987 Constitution.


Fr. Bernas was born to a landed family in the rural town Baao, Camarines Sur on July 8,1932 and studied at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law and Woodstock College in New York University.


He came from a family of 12 siblings, three of whom became religious. The two others became Benedictine missionaries, Sister Bernardita who passed on in 2011 and Sister Mary Bellarmine who passed on in June 17,2017.


Their mother, Mrs. Amparo Bernas, brought up her children singlehandly after an early death of her physician husband Dr. Jose Bernas. (Melo M. Acuña)

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ. July 8,1932 - March 6,2021. (ateneo.edu photo)

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