Chief Justice Renato Corona kneels before Father Rector  as the former receives the  ceremonial declaration of graduation. Photo by RED IMAGESAS THE country’s top magistrate, Chief Justice Renato Corona is used to donning a black robe, but the one he wore in the afternoon of April 2 was different – an academic gown for his doctorate from UST.

Despite a busy schedule as the head of the judiciary, Corona a graduated summa cum laude with the degree Doctor of Civil Law, finishing 60 units after five years of study.

Corona, an Atenean since grade school, is capping his legal career as a Thomasian, earning an almost perfect general weighted average of 1.04.

In his valedictory speech, Corona said he went back to school not as a public official but as a student, and to show to young people that education is valuable.

“Keep in mind always that education does not end when we leave the classroom. In fact, it should not even end at all,” Corona said.

“You might be asking what a Supreme Court justice is doing in UST studying. I think it’s important to emphasize to young people the importance of studying and learning new things,” Corona said to some 300 graduates of the UST Graduate School.

This year’s graduation was special as it was held at Intramuros’ Puerta Real–the Walled City’s Royal Gate during Spanish colonial rule, in commemoration of the Quadricentennial. Intramuros was UST’s home until World War 2 destroyed the original campus.

Corona, 62, is one of the youngest magistrates to be appointed to the Supreme Court. He became the 150th member of the high tribunal when he was appointed by then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2002.

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Corona said he fondly remembered the time when his mother, also an alumna of UST, took him and his brothers to the UST Museum when he was a kid.

“I join you today not without a bit of nostalgia because from where I grew up, hangs my late mother’s UST diploma. Eugenia Coronado graduated from this institution with a bachelor of commerce, major in accounting, summa cum laude,” Corona said.

He said he was grateful to UST for making possible his dream of earning a Doctor of Civil Law degree.

“Education is not simply a matter of ingesting information or of committing facts and figures to memory but rather of forming and stimulating the mind not only to think but also to think correctly, and to choose rightly, wisely, and well,” Corona said.

Corona acquired his bachelor of laws from Ateneo de Manila University in 1974 and served as faculty member for 17 years.

After law school, Corona took up Master’s in Business Administration at the Ateneo Professional Schools and in 1982, he was accepted to the Master of Laws program at Harvard Law School, where he focused on foreign investment policies and the regulation of corporate and financial institution.

In 1992, then president Fidel Ramos appointed him as assistant executive secretary for legal affairs. Two years later, Corona was promoted to deputy executive secretary, and eventually became presidential legal counsel.

His doctoral dissertation titled “To Every One His Due: The Philippine Judiciary at the Forefront of Promoting Environment Justice,” was about environmental law.

Last month, Corona was conferred an honorary degree of laws by Bohol University.

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Last year, Renmin University of China Law School, the top law school in the People’s Republic of China, made him an Honorary Professor of Law.

Corona obtained honorary doctorates in law from the University of Batangas in 2006 and the University of Cebu in 2007. Darenn G. Rodriguez

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