Joaquin G. Bernas

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Joaquin G. Bernas, SJ is a Filipino priest, lawyer, writer and spiritual adviser. He is a Dean Emeritus of the Ateneo de Manila Law School and was a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission that drafted the present Constitution .


Early life and education

Joaquin G. Bernas was born on 8 July 1932 in Baao, Camarines Sur. In June 1950, he entered the Society of Jesus Seminary in Quezon City. He took up his undergraduate and graduate courses at Berchmans College in Cebu. After completing his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1956 and his Master of Arts in Philosophy degree in 1957, he continued to study for his Bachelor of Laws degree at the Ateneo de Manila University Law School. He placed 9th in the bar examinations held in 1962.

Bernas was formally ordained into priesthood at Fordham University in June 1965. He finished his Masters degree in Juridical Science at New York University in 1966 and his Doctorate degree two years after.


Fr. Bernas taught Constitutional and Political Law at the Ateneo de Manila University law school and held a number of key positions in the university. These positions include: Dean of the Graduate School and College of Arts and Sciences from 1970 to 1971; Dean of the College of Law from 1974 to 1976 and from 2000 to 2004; and President of the College of Law from 1984 to 1993. He also served as the Rector of the Jesuit community at Ateneo de Manila University from 1994 to 2000.

Appointed as Provincial Superior of the Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus from 1976 to 1982, he led the Jesuit community in the Philippines during the Martial Law years. He was known to be one of the key writers of speeches and letters for Corazon Aquino, Cardinal Sin, and other bishops in the Philippines.

Joaquin G. Bernas also served as the Vice Chairman of the Constitutional Convention Secretariat of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines from 1971 to 1972, as a Commissioner of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, as a Commissioner of the Feliciano Commission in 2000, and as Legal Consultant of the Office of the Presidential Adviser for the Peace Process from 1994 to 2000.

Inrecognition of his achievements in the field of law and writing, the Ateneo de Davao university conferred on Bernas a degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, in 2008.


Bernas also published a number of works, mostly about Philippine politics. Compilations of his written pieces include the following:

  • The 1987 Philippine Constitution: A Comprehensive Reviewer: 2008 Supplement
  • The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary
  • The 1987 Philippine Constitution: A Reviewr-Primer
  • Introduction to Public International Law
  • A Living Constitution: The Trouble Arroyo Presidency
  • A Living Constitution: The Abbreviated Estrada Presidency
  • A Living Constitution: The Cory Aquino Presidency
  • A Living Constitution: The Ramos Presidency
  • Constitutional Structure and Powers of Government
  • Foreign Relations in Constitutional Law
  • Dismantling the Dictatorship from MIA Tarmac 1983 to EDSA 1986: A Collection of Essays




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