Fred Ruiz Castro

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Fred Ruiz Castro (September 2, 1914 - April 19, 1979) was the Chief Justice of the Philippines from January 5, 1976 until his death on April 19, 1979 while on an official trip to India.

Personal Life

He was born at Laoag, Ilocos Norte to Dr. Santos Castro and Engracia Ruiz. He graduated his Bachelor of Laws from the University of the Philippines in 1936.

Judicial Career

Castro was Judge Advocate General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, until he was appointed Executive Secretary by President Ramon Magsaysay in 1954. He became an Associate Justice for the Court of appeals from 1956-1966 until he became Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on May 29, 1966.


Castro was considered one of the advocates for the integration of the Philippine Bar, paving the way for the establishment of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in the 1970’s. He is also behind the creation of the Supreme Court Reports Annotated, which is currently the voluminous source of decisions of the Supreme Court used by practitioners and law students.

The Martial Law Years

Castro, together with Justice Querube Makalintal, was the ‘swing vote’ in the Ratification Cases which upheld the 1973 Constitution, which paved the way of extending Marcos’ regime. When the question of whether the petitioners are entitled to relief, the two justices answered ‘No’, thus upholding the 1973 Constitution and made legitimate the rule of Marcos and his power.

Castro approved of the Martial Law years, as reflected in his decisions / opinions and public statements. In one of the cases involving the writ of habeas corpus of Marcos critic Benigno Aquino Jr., he said, in a concurring opinion, that the declaration of Martial Law automatically suspends the application of the said writ, thus effectively depriving the former senator of such privilege.

In a speech to the 8th World Peace Thrugh Law Conference held in Manila, Castro proclaimed:

“Martial law is known to the west as the drastic solution to a violent situation... In the Philippines, this primary purpose remains, but it has been enlarged to embrace also the extirpation of the ills and conditions which spawned the riot, the anarchy and the rebellion!”


  • Bernas, Joaquin (2003). The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: a Commentary. Rex Book Store, Manila
  • Cruz, Isagani A. (2000). Res Gestae: A Brief History of the Supreme Court. Rex Book Store, Manila
  • Supreme Court Reports Annotated, Volume 89 (In Memoriam). Central Law Book Publishing, Manila

Original Source

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