Corona friend is new SC Justice

Purple S. Romero

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Bernabe is the second female justice that Aquino named to the High Court

MANILA, Philippines – A lady justice from the Court of Appeals is the newest member of the Supreme Court.

President Aquino has appointed Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe on Sept. 16 as SC magistrate. Bernabe would take over the post vacated by retired SC Justice and now ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. Morales hung her robe on June 19.

The 58-year-old Bernabe is a close friend of Chief Justice Renato Corona. During her public interview with the Judicial and Bar Council – the body which vets nominees to the judiciary to the president – Corona opted not to ask her questions because he said he has known her for “40 years.”

Fast Facts about Justice Estela Bernabe:

  • Commercial law is her forte
  • Her husband owns 16 gas stations
  • Percentage of affirmances – where decisions penned were upheld by the Supreme Court – in the past 5 years: 96.77%
  • Percentage of reversals in the 5 years – 3.23%.

Bernabe and Corona are both alumni of Ateneo Law School. The lady justice  finished her law studies in 1976, graduating as salutatorian. Corona, who chairs the JBC, did not vote for her inclusion in the JBC shortlist, however.

In her  interview in May 2011, Bernabe was asked about the stock distribution option – where instead of lands, farmers could choose to own shares of stocks –  under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The SDO was dangled by Hacienda Luisita – which is owned by Aquino’s family – to farmers in the 6,000-hectare sugar plantation.

This mechanism has been assailed as a means to skirt the agrarian reform law, whose aim is to distribute agricultural lands to farmers.

Bernabe, who gives lectures on CARP, told the JBC however that she is not familiar with the SDO.

Also in her interview with the JBC, Bernabe was asked about her policy on accepting gifts.  She answered that she is open to receiving gifts if they are “small tokens and only during Christmas.”

Bernabe also said that since she entered the judiciary 1996, she has become “less sociable.”

The lady magistrate confirmed to Newsbreak in May that she organizes golf tournaments in the CA, which are open to the public.

Bernabe spent 7 years in the appellate court. She was appointed in 2004. Prior to that, she served as regional trial court judge in Makati for four years. – Newsbreak

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