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Fr. Joaquin Bernas, Noted Constitutionalist, Dies at Age 88

Bernas was a member of the country's Constitutional Commission which drafted the 1987 Charter.

Father Joaquin Bernas, a Jesuit priest and a respected constitutionalist in the Philippines, has passed away at age 88. He died on March 6, Saturday morning in Quezon City.

According to Fr. Emmanuel Alfonso of Jesuit Communications, Bernas was diagnosed with an “infection” and was admitted to a hospital for over a month.

“Fr. Bernie has been diagnosed with an infection that will need about six weeks of treatment,” he told Radio Veritas. (Read: 3 Priests in the PH Who Are Also Accomplished Scientists)

Bernas was discharged on March 4— just two days before his passing— and immediately returned to his Jesuit residence at Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU).

Fr. Joaquin Bernas

Photo from Dean Mel Sta. Maria Twitter

Bernas is a known figure in the Philippines’s fields of religion and politics. He finished law at the Ateneo Law School in 1962 and placed 9th in the Bar examinations.

He was among those who made history by being part of the country’s Constitutional Commission, which drafted the 1987 Constitution. (Read: Catholic Bishops, Schools Raise Concerns About Red-Tagging)

Bernas also taught in ADMU and was appointed as dean twice until his retirement in 2004. He also serves as ADMU president and was an opinion columnist for a major daily newspaper.

In a statement, the Ateneo Law School expressed its mourning over the passing of Bernas who kept the institution “true to its identity and calling”.

“The Ateneo Law School’s debt of gratitude to Fr. Bernas can never truly be fully repaid,” said its current dean Jose Maria Holifeña.

To honor its former president, the school has also named an institute for continuing legal education after Bernas.


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