Issue of December 2, 2018

71th Courier Anniversary Issue
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Abra’s Bersamin appointed new Supreme Court justice
by Hanna C. Lacsamana

President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed Lucas Bersamin of Abra as the new Supreme Court chief justice on Nov. 26.

He replaced Teresita de Castro who retired last Oct. 8 after serving as the country’s highest magistrate for barely two months.

Bersamin, who will serve for 10 months until his retirement in October 2019, was nominated to the top SC post along with fellow senior SC Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta and six other associate justices by the Judicial and Bar Council.

Bersamin finished Law at the University of the East in 1973 and placed ninth in the Bar examinations. He took Political Science at the University of the Philippines Diliman in 1968.

A member of the judiciary for more than 30 years, he engaged in private practice for 10 years. He also taught in UE, Ateneo Law School, and University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Civil Law.

In 1986, he served as a Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge. According to Fastfacts, Bersamin was awarded the Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos Award in 2002 and earned awards for best decisions in civil law and criminal law in 2000.

He joined the Court of Appeals in 2003 after being appointed by then former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Among the high profile cases he handled in the appellate court is that of former Agriculture Usec. Joc-joc Bolante, who was the alleged mastermind in the purported diversion of P728 million fertilizer funds to the campaign funds of Arroyo in 2004.

He ascended to the SC in 2009 again by Arroyo’s order.

As SC associate justice, Bersamin penned a controversial ruling that granted bail to former senator Juan Ponce Enrile who was accused of plunder.

He was also the ponente (author) of the SC decision acquitting the current House Speaker of plunder, former senator Jinggoy Estrada also of plunder, and allowing former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Under the current administration, Bersamin voted in favor of the arrest of Sen. Leila de Lima, the ouster of former CJ Maria Lourdes Sereno, and the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

The new SC chief justice is the brother of former Abra Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin and former Rep. Luis Bersamin, who was assassinated in 2006.

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