Ex-SC Justice Leonardo Quisumbing passes away

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former Supreme Court Associate Justice Leopnardo Quisumbing has passed away at the age of 79, the Court confirmed on Monday, January 21. 

“Chief Justice Lucas P. Bersamin and the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court deeply mourn the passing of retired Associate Justice, Hon. Leonardo A. Quisumbing,” the Supreme Court said in a statement on Monday.

Quisumbing served the Court for nearly 11 years, having been appointed in January 1998 by former president Fidel Ramos.

Quisumbing was a labor secretary under the Ramos administration before he was a justice of the Court, and before that a defense undersecretary for former president Corazon Aquino.

“Justice Quisumbing’s remains lie in state at the San Quentin Chapel, Ground Floor, Loyola Memorial Chapel in Guadalupe, Makati and may be viewed starting this evening,” the SC said.

Former chief justice Reynato Puno, Quisumbing’s law school buddy at the University of the Philippines (UP), called the late justice “the undisputed student leader of UP.”

Qusiumbing graduated magna cum laude with a degree in journalism from the Manuel L. Quezon University (MLQU), and took up law in UP. During his time at UP, he became an associate editor of the Philippine Collegian upon the urging of Puno, then the editor-in-chief.

Activist, writer

“I loved reading the writings of Justice Leo when he was in his 20s, and reading his ponencia as a mature justice,” Puno said during his eulogy for Quisumbing at the necrological service offered by the Supreme Court on Thursday, January 24.

Puno described Quisumbing as an activist during his days at the MLQU. Puno shared one of Quisumbing’s writings, penned when he was 23, that goes: “Since when has freedom meant porridge for the millions and smorgasbord for the few?”

Puno said that as a justice of the Supreme Court, not one of Quisumbing’s draft decisions was rejected by the en banc.

"He was without a doubt a man of competence, integrity, and probity,” said Bersamin during his eulogy.

Bersamin said Quisumbing was a quiet man at the Court, saying “he loved his work, and he worked incessantly.”

“Justice Quisumbing, through his ponencia, quietly strengthened our judicial system,” Bersamin said.

Before his retirement in 2009, Quisumbing penned a labor decision that awarded death benefits to a seafarer who passed away while on duty. (Coastal vs Delgado)

Quisumbing concurred in the 2009 decision that rejected the U.S embassy custody of Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, who was convicted for raping a Filipino inside the Subic Bay Freeport. 

Quisumbing also concurred in the 2008 landmark decision that declared as unconstitutional the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) that the Arroyo government had forged then with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

He briefly served as Dean of the College of Law of Northwestern University in Laoag City.

Quisumbing is survived by children Josefa Lourdes and Cecilia Rachel, better known as Coco, an ex-broadcast journalist and former Commission on Human Rights chief. His wife Purificacion, who also once headed CHR, died in 2011. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.