In recognition of the exemplary service by Senior Associate Estela M. Perlas Bernabe, who mandatorily retires from public service today, the Supreme Court has created a special award in her name to be given to retiring SC Justices who shall have served as magistrate in all levels of court without leaving any case pending for resolution upon promotion to a higher court.
In the Special En Banc Session held at the Supreme Court Session Hall on Friday, May 13, celebrating the retirement of Senior Associate Justice Perlas- Bernabe, Chief Justice Alexander G. Gesmundo shared that the Supreme Court has resolved to create an award in her honor— The Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe Exemplary Career Jurist Award.
“This is the first of its kind in the history of the Philippine Judiciary,” said the Chief Justice. “This award shall be henceforth conferred only to the distinct set of Justices of the Supreme Court who have served the Judiciary in all court levels, particularly from a trial court, a lower collegiate court, and finally, up to
the Supreme Court, and have achieved a zero-backlog or zero docket upon every promotion to the next level court, until their retirement from the Supreme Court, as what Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe exceptionally accomplished during the course of her 26-year judicial career.”
The Chief Justice said that by conferring this award, “the Court hopes that future career jurists will aspire to receive this honor upon their own retirement, and traverse the same path of unwavering dedication to judicial service the Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe paved for them.”
Chief Justice Gesmundo led the Associate Justices of the Court in paying their tributes to Senior Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe by presenting her the traditional tokens of the Supreme Court and giving their own personal tributes. The tokens include the Philippine flag, the Supreme Court flag, commemorative pin, seal, brass shingle, judicial robe, gavel, Statuette of Judicial Excellence, and The Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos Award.
“If the fullness of one’s life is measured by how much one has emptied himself or herself to others, then, it is indisputable that at this moment, Senior Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe has already lived a full life,” said Chief Justice Gesmundo.
Senior Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe also received from her colleagues the Judicial Medal of Distinction. The said Medal “is especially awarded to retiring Justices of the Supreme Court who excelled in the quintessential duty of efficient case disposition, particularly by leaving no case in her docket, or no case pending for resolution upon her retirement from the Court.”
A native of Plaridel, Bulacan, Senior Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe earned her Bachelor of Science in Commerce degree, magna cum laude, at St. Paul College Manila in 1972. After graduating salutatorian from the Ateneo de Manila College of Law and passing the Bar in 1976, she joined the Judiciary as a technical assistant in the office of (then Court Administrator) Justice Lorenzo Relova.
She subsequently engaged in private practice from 1978 to 1996, before returning to judicial service in 1996 as Presiding Judge of Branch 66 of the Makati City Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 66. She was promoted to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 142 of Makati City in 2000, and to the Court of Appeals as an Associate Justice on March 15, 2004. Senior Associate Justice Perlas-Bernabe was appointed 171st Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on September 16, 2011. (Courtesy of the Supreme Court Public Information Office)