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Chief Justices Extol Chief Justice Narvasa

November 4, 2013

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno and (Ret.) Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. today extolled the late (Ret.) Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa who was given full honors at the Supreme Court.

During the necrological services for Chief Justice Narvasa, Chief Justice Sereno saw in the late Chief Justice “the humility of a truly great man.” She said that also said in him a “truly caring man” who was “genuinely loved” by the employees of the Court. She said that Chief Justice’s Narvasa’s stay in the Court was “marked with peace and warm relationships” with the employees.

Chief Justice Sereno said that although 15 years separate her term as Chief Justice from the time Chief Justice Narvasa departed the Court, she has a link to him because the late Chief Justice “had a passion for judicial reforms...In every step of progress that the Judiciary makes, he will be there.”

For his part, Chief Justice Davide fondly recalled the seven years he had worked with Chief Justice Narvasa in the High Court. Throughout those years, Chief Justice Davide said that he had developed “an ideal working relationship” with Chief Justice Narvasa. “I was a personal witness to the greatness of his heart and soul…In all that he did, we witnessed manifestations of God's abiding presence,” he said.

Chief Justice Davide told the children of the late Chief Justice: “Do not grieve; rejoice, for Chief Justice Narvasa is now incorruptible and immortal. He is alive in our hearts.”

In response, the Narvasa family, represented by Atty. Gregorio Narvasa II, thanked the Supreme Court for the honors it has rendered to the Narvasa patriarch. Atty. Narvasa shared a side of the late Chief Justice unknown to most that he “is a wonderful singer…with a wonderful baritone voice to calm and relax you.” He revealed that the Chief Justice had once recorded a compact disc of eight song tracks for their mother, his wife Janina Yuseco. He gave a copy of the CD to Chief Justice Sereno and another “for archive” to Assistant Court Administrator and Public Information Office Chief Atty. Theodore O. Te. He shared and played the recording of his father of the late National Artist Levi Celerio’s composition “Saan Ka Man Naroroon,” which a cut from the eight-track CD recorded by Chief Justice Narvasa. “Chief Justice Andres R. Narvasa…Daddy…Saan ka man naroroon, mahal na mahal ka namin,” Atty. Narvasa said.

In an earlier interview, Atty. Narvasa said that his father’s cremated remains will be brought to their residence where they will hold vigil until this Friday, November 8, 2013, when the cremated remains will be interred at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Shrine Parish Church, New Manila, Quezon City. He said that their mother’s remains were also interred at Mt. Carmel.

The 19th Chief Justice of the Highest Court was given full honors at the Supreme Court which coincided with the Supreme Court’s flag ceremony.  Chief Justice Sereno led the Court in welcoming the Narvasa children and the urn containing the cremated remains of the late Chief Justice carried by honor guards.

The cremated remains stayed at the SC Session Hall from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. where members of the judiciary and employees, as well as the public, paid their last respects.

Around 175 uniformed men from Camp Crame’s Headquarter Support Services, including its Escort and Honor Company, showed up to render honor and support to the late Chief Justice. A portion of Padre Faura street (from the University of the Philippine Manila to the Department of Justice) was closed to traffic in the morning to allow for the formal honors.

Chief Justice Narvasa died at the age of 84 last October 31, 2013 due to a lingering illness. His remains were cremated and his ashes placed in an urn placed at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Shrine Parish Church, New Manila, Quezon City, where Holy Mass was celebrated every night.

Chief Justice Narvasa is survived by his children Andres, Jr., Raymundo, Gregorio II, Socorro, Martin and Regina and their respective spouses, and grandchildren. His wife Janina Yuseco has passed away in 2006.

Chief Justice Narvasa was appointed to the Supreme Court as its 112th Associate Justice on April 10, 1986 by then President Corazon C. Aquino. On December 8, 1991, President Aquino appointed him as the 19th Chief Justice. He retired after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 on November 30 1998.

Prior to his judicial appointment, he engaged in private law practice having headed the Andres R. Narvasa & Associates. He was also a Professor of Law and a Bar Reviewer. Likewise, he served as Legal Counsel for his alma mater, the University of Santo Tomas, wherein he has served also in various capacities including Vice-Rector for Student Affairs, Member of the Board of Trustees, President of the Faculty Club, and Dean of the Faculty of Civil Law.

Chief Justice Narvasa also served as Chair of the Preparatory Commission for Constitutional Reform, a special agency tasked to look into potentially positive modifications in the Philippine Constitution, from 1999 to 2000.

He graduated salutatorian in elementary at Colegio de San Juan de Letran and valedictorian at the Arellano High School, 1945.  He finished his Bachelor of Laws, graduating magna cum laude, at the University of Santo TomasFaculty of Civil Law. He placed second in the 1951 Philippine Bar Examinations, with a bar rating of 91.6%.  He was conferred a Doctor of Laws degree honoris causa by the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, Angeles University Foundation, and University of Santo Tomas.

Chief Justice Narvasa was appointed as the general counsel for the Agrava Fact-finding Commission, which formed by then President Ferdinand Marcos to investigate the death of former senator and staunch Marcos critic Benigno Aquino, Jr.. The Commission was chaired by former Philippine Court of Appeals Associate Justice Corazon J. Agrava. As general counsel, Narvasa meticulously pieced together evidence to point out the military in the Aquino-Galman murders.

He has administered the Oath of Office to Philippine Presidents Fidel V. Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada.

After his retirement in 1998, he was appointed by then President Estrada to chair the Preparatory Commission for Constitutional Reform, an independent commission formed to study the basic charter and suggest potentially positive modifications. He served in this capacity from 1999 to 2000.

Narvasa also served as counsel for President Joseph Ejercito Estrada in his impeachment proceedings before the Philippine Senate and plunder charges before the Sandiganbayan.

Among his various awards were a Plaque of Merit as Most Outstanding Alumnus of Faculty of Civil Law, UST Alumni Foundation, Inc., Papal Award Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, Human Rights Award from the Concerned Women of the Philippines, Ninoy Aquino Movement for Freedom, Justice, Peace and Democracy of the United States of America, and Outstanding Manilan ’93 during the 422nd Araw ng Maynila. ###