Who is new justice chief Menardo Guevarra?

Pia Ranada
Who is new justice chief Menardo Guevarra?
A true blue Atenean, father of 4 boys, and once a part-time law school student who almost topped the bar – here are some things to know about the new justice secretary

MANILA, Philippines – New Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra has a tough task ahead of him as the Duterte administration is feeling the pressure of the President’s promise to suppress crime and illegal drugs.

Here are some things to know about Duterte’s newest Cabinet appointee:

1. Atenean, not San Bedan. Unlike many of Duterte’s appointees, Guevarra graduated from the Ateneo School of Law and Ateneo de Manila University. He majored in Political Science in Ateneo, graduating from there in 1974. He, however, obtained his Masters in Economics at the University of the Philippines. 

2. A Blue Eagles fan. An Atenean through and through, Guevarra watches UAAP games “fanatically,” despite his busy schedule in Malacañang. He is particularly obsessed with UAAP men’s basketball and women’s volleyball.

3. A student achiever. Guevarra placed second in the 1985 bar examinations. He graduated magna cum laude from college in 1974.

4. Took evening classes in law school. Part-time students might find a role model in Guevarra. He took classes in Ateneo during the evening while working as a staff economist at the National Economic and Development Authority and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas during the day. He was classmates in evening classes with former budget secretary Butch Abad.

5. Aquino appointee. Before joining Duterte in Malacañang, Guevarra already had experience working in the Palace, but under Benigno Aquino III. Then Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa Jr tapped him to be deputy executive secretary for legal affairs. After that, Aquino made him commissioner at the Philippine Competition Commission.

6. Knows a thing or two about revising the constitution. Before serving under Aquino, Guevarra helped out with the administration of former president Corazon Aquino. His first job as a fresh law school graduate was as technical staff of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, the group of law experts tapped by Corazon Aquino to draft the post-Marcos charter.

7. Good friend of Bingbong Medialdea. Guevarra was convinced by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to join him in the Palace. He was told that he would be given a promotion from his old Malacañang post. The post of Senior Executive Deputy Secretary is a level up as he is the right-hand man of Medialdea.

8. Man behind many Duterte issuances. When he was in Malacañang, he was responsible for drafting crucial executive orders, memorandum orders, and administrative orders, which were then approved by Medialdea and signed by Duterte. He shared with Rappler the funny story behind his penning Duterte’s martial law declaration on the night of his birthday.

9. Ateneo law professor. If Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque taught law at the University of the Philippines, Guevarra taught in Ateneo. He was even the professor of Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao. As professor, he specialized in civil law, criminal law, and administrative litigation.

10. Around a decade younger than Aguirre. Guevarra is 63 years old, turning 64 this May. This makes him almost a decade younger than both Aguirre, 71, and Duterte 73.

11. Family man. Guevarra is the proud father of 4 boys, all of whom are married save the youngest. He has 4 grandchildren.

– Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.