Fr. Joaquin Bernas, S.J., a noted Philippine Constitutional law expert, is the Firm’s Of Counsel. He was a member of the Constitutional Commission, the body which drafted the present Constitution. In the deliberations, he was active in many debates on several landmark sections, including the Bill of Rights, limitations on foreign ownership, territorial jurisdiction and others.
He has been regularly consulted by the Supreme Court on difficult and politically sensitive issues. He was the amicus curae of the Supreme Court in the landmark case of People vs. Echegaray, where the constitutionality of the imposition of the death penalty was first tested. He was also involved in the same capacity in the Manila Pryce case, where the Supreme Court first applied the “Filipino First” policy in businesses representing cultural heritage. He has argued as amicus curiae in a Supreme Court case involving the disputed citizenship of a candidate for President of the Republic of the Philippines.
Working with the Firm’s lawyers, Father Bernas has also acted as the National Power Corporation’s expert witness in an arbitration case with Philippine Geothermal, Inc. on the constitutionality of an automatic renewal of a service concession contract concerning the conversion of steam to energy. The Firm has further represented the new oil industry players in the 1999 Oil Deregulation Law which was questioned before the Supreme Court.
The Firm has advised the Department of Energy, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of Finance in a case filed by a province against the Republic of the Philippines involving the province’s share in the revenues of an offshore natural gas project.