Bersamin, former UST law prof, is 25th Chief Justice

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Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin receives the Gusi Peace Prize on Nov. 28 at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay. (Photo by Mary Jazmin D.. Tabuena)

NEWLY appointed Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin received the 2018 “Gusi Peace Prize” last Nov. 28 for his exemplary career in law.

Bersamin, a former professor at the Faculty of Civil Law, received the award for peace and justice at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay.

“This [award] validates my service in the judiciary for 32 years. In that span of time I came to believe that a judge, after all, can be a factor of peace,” said Bersamin in his acceptance speech.

Bersamin was awarded the Gusi Peace Prize on the same day he was appointed as chief justice of the Philippines.

He has served for 32 years in the judiciary, the longest among the sitting justices.

UST Faculty of Civil Law Dean Nilo Divina commended the appointment of Bersamin as the 25th chief justice.

He said Bersamin’s appointment was “well-deserved” since Bersamin carried all the qualifications of a chief justice.

“He [makes] excellent decisions, even though he is not a graduate of UST, he is an embodiment of a Thomasian lawyer,” Divina told the Varsitarian in an interview.

Divina said he was confident Bersamin would be able to implement reforms, even if he has only a year to serve in the post.

Bersamin replaced Teresita de Castro, who served for less than two months, the shortest stint of a chief justice.

Bersamin bested four other candidates including Civil Law alumnus and Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta.

Appointed to the court in 2009 by former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Bersamin voted in favor of the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani and the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

He also voted to grant the quo warranto petition that ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

The 69-year-old earned his political science degree from the University of the Philippines- Diliman in 1968 and his law degree from the University of the East.

He placed ninth in the 1973 Bar examinations.

Bersamin taught at the Faculty of Civil Law from 2000 to 2009 and became a member of the pre-bar review faculty.

He served as a Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge from 1986 to 2003 and was promoted to the Court of Appeals.

Bersamin will retire on Oct. 19, 2019, when he will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Among the other awardees of the Gusi Peace Prize was UST alumnus Gen. Antonio Tamayo who received the award for his advocacy in education.

Tamayo, in his acceptance speech, said the country should prioritize character-building as it would “provide [the young] with a better tomorrow.”

He graduated from the College of Commerce and Business Administration in 1968.

Other laureates of this year’s Gusi Peace Prize were from Argentina, Costa Rica, Australia, Ethiopia, Germany, India, the United States, Portugal, Pakistan, Turkey, South Africa and Poland.

The annual Gusi Peace Prize International Awards recognizes the efforts of individuals in promoting peace and respect for human life in the practice of their professions. with reports from John Christian W. Uy

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