MANILA - "A brilliant teacher and an erudite gentleman. A man in white holding court before a nationwide audience."
These and more are just some of the words Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno used to praise the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas who passed away Sunday night.
In a statement, Sereno described Cuevas as a skillful lawyer who became known to a new generation after he served as chief defense counsel of then Chief Justice Renato Corona during the latter's impeachment trial.
Sereno was appointed chief justice after Corona was removed.
She said Cuevas made a mark not just on her generation but the new generation as well.
"He had that certain quality of character that transcended generations," she said.
"Many of the younger generation know him only by what they saw during his most recent high-profile litigation, the man in white holding court before a nationwide audience. But I also had the privilege of knowing him as a brilliant teacher at the University of the Philippines, from where he finished his law degree and where he first made a mark in many law students' hearts and minds," Sereno said.
The Chief Justice said Cuevas' classes in remedial law were "master classes and every student who sat through his classes, regardless of the grade they got, would have one conclusion: he was a brilliant teacher."
She also described the former SC magistrate as an "erudite gentleman of the old school, speaking always with his words distinctly enunciated and always preferring the elegant language of the law to the often crude lingo of contemporary society."
The flag of the Philippines and the colors of the Supreme Court will fly at half-staff as a sign of mourning for Cuevas until his burial.
Cuevas was the Supreme Court's 106th Associate Justice, serving from June 1, 1984 to April 16, 1986.
He worked as justice secretary under the administration of former President Joseph Estrada and was a lawyer of the influential Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC). He served as chairman of New Era University, which was established by the INC.