Constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas dies

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 06 2021 09:05 AM | Updated as of Mar 06 2021 04:52 PM

MANILA (3rd UPDATE)— Jesuit priest and noted constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas, among the framers of the 1987 Constitution, died early Saturday morning. He was 88. 

Ateneo Law School Dean Joey Hofileña, in a message to the Ateneo Law School community Saturday, confirmed Bernas' passing, paying tribute to achievements of the Dean Emeritus. 

"An earthly life dedicated to service, to standards of excellence, to the greater glory of God,” he said.

“Indeed, a man, an excellent man, for others,” he added, crediting Bernas for “keeping the Ateneo Law School true to its identity and calling.”

In a statement later Saturday, the Ateneo de Manila University said Bernas "had serious heart ailments and was in quarantine after discharge from the hospital on Thursday evening." He died at the Lucas Renewal Center of Loyola House of Studies in Quezon City.

Bernas' remains were cremated Saturday morning under pandemic protocol and his ashes brought to the Ateneo de Manila Jesuit Residence for an intimate mass. 

"They will then be kept in the Jesuit Health and Wellness Center until, in mid-March, a proper funeral Mass and inurnment in the Province cemetery at Sacred Heart Novitiate can be scheduled," the Ateneo said. 

Malacañang sent its condolences to Bernas' friends and colleagues, citing his "legacy of legal excellence and passion for humanity and the rule of law."

"A great Jesuit educator, he mentored generations of Filipino students, lawyers, legal academics and researchers... May his soul, through the mercy of God, rest in eternal peace and happiness," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

A member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission which drafted the 1987 Philippine Constitution, Bernas is well-respected in legal circles. His commentary on the Constitution is a staple in constitutional law classes in various law schools.

He graduated valedictorian from the Ateneo Law School in 1962 and placed 9th in the Bar examinations.
He taught and was named dean twice at the same law school, eventually given the title Dean Emeritus upon his retirement in 2004. Ateneo Law School named an institute for continuing legal education after him.

He also became president of the Ateneo de Manila University and was an opinion columnist for a major national daily.

He has a bachelor of arts degree in English, Latin and Greek classics and a master’s degree in Philosophy from Berchmans College, degrees in Licentiate of Sacred Theology from Woodstock College, and Master of Laws and Doctor of Juridicial Science from New York University.

In October 2019, Bernas was rushed to the hospital after he collapsed during breakfast.

He was again rushed to the hospital in November 2020.