“I thank Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for extending to me this appointment to be the 22nd Chief Justice of our country. Above all else, I thank the Almighty for this extraordinary gift, more accurately, this trust which is heavily laden with responsibility.
I accept the appointment with a clear awareness of the defining role of the judiciary as our people confront turning points after turning points in life. The Judiciary may not have the power of the sword, may not have the power of the purse, but it has the power to interpret the Constitution, and the unerring lessons of history tell us that rightly wielded, that power can make a difference for good.
With this acceptance, I pledge to do what is expected of me: to espouse no ideology but constitutionalism; to uphold no theology but the rule of law. The Judiciary has but one constituency and it is a constituency of one – – – the blindfolded lady with a sword unsheathed. She represents justice, fair justice to all, unfairness to none. I hope to be an instrument of this kind of justice.
In God, I put all my trust.”
(This is the statement of Chief Justice Puno, accepting his appointment as the 22nd Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court. To read his statement given earlier this year, click here).
Here’s the press release from the Supreme Court:
Senior Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno was named by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as the 22nd Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines shortly after midnight.
The most senior of the 14 associate justices, Chief Justice Puno chaired the Court’s Second Division and the Senate Electoral Tribunal. He is also one of the consultants of the Judicial and Bar Council.
Chief Justice Puno also chaired the Court Systems Journal and the Supreme Court Committee which digests the Court’s decisions for distribution to members of the judiciary. He likewise headed the High Court’s Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court that drafted the Rule on Violence against Women and their Children, Rule on Legal Separation, Rule on Declaration of Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of Voidable Marriages, Rule on Adoption, and Rules of Criminal Procedure, among others, Among his ponencias, Chief Justice Puno penned the March 2, 2001 En Banc decision upholding the legitimacy of the Arroyo presidency (Estrada v. Arroyo), the decision declaring unconstitutional RA 8180 or the Oil Deregulation Law (Tatad v. DOE), and the first SC ruling ordering the Manila Electric Company to refund its customers (Republic v. Meralco).
Chief Justice Puno was appointed to the High Tribunal on June 28, 1993 by then President Fidel V. Ramos.
Prior to his public career, he engaged in private practice working as Assistant Attorney at the Gerardo Roxas and Abraham F. Sarmiento Law Office as Assistant Attorney in 1962. He later joined his brother, the late Judge Isaac S. Puno, Jr., at the Puno Law Office from 1969 to 1971.
In 1971, he was appointed Solicitor in the Office of the Solicitor General. At the age of 32, he was designated as Acting City Judge of Quezon City Branch II while concurrently serving as Solicitor in 1972. He was promoted to Assistant Solicitor General two years after.
In 1980, at age 40, Justice Puno was appointed Associate Justice of the Court of Appeals. He holds the distinction of being the youngest appointee to the CA.
He was reappointed Appellate Justice of the Intermediate Appellate Court (First Special Division) on January 1983. The following year, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Justice. He also served as Acting Chairman of the Board of Pardons and Parole.
Chief Justice Puno resumed his judicial career when he was again appointed CA Justice on August 1, 1986.
Chief Justice Puno obtained his Bachelor of Science in Jurisprudence and Bachelor of Laws degrees from the University of the Philippines in 1962, and subsequently pursued his post-graduate studies in the United States on full scholarship. He obtained his Master of Comparative Laws degree from the Southern Methodist University (SMU), Dallas, Texas, with high distinction and as valedictorian of his class; his Master of Laws degree at the University of California, Berkeley, California; and finished all the academic requirements for the degree of Doctor of Juridical Science at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.
In 2005, he became the first Filipino recipient of the Distinguished Global Alumnus Award given by the Dedman School of Law, SMU. He has been conferred honorary doctorate degrees by the Philippine Wesleyan University, Angeles University Foundation, Bulacan State University, and by the Hannam University, South Korea.
Chief Justice Puno served as editor of the Philippine Collegian in 1961. While in law school, he served as Chairman of the Law Register and Recent Documents Editor of the Philippine Law Journal at the UP College of Law. In recognition of his campus leadership, he was given the Outstanding Award for Excellence and Leadership by the Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity for the years 1960, 1961, and 1962.
Among other honors, he was chosen as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (1977), Araw ng Maynila Awardee as Outstanding Jurist (1987), Outstanding Alumnus of the UP College of Law (1996), Ulirang Ama Awardee (2005), Grand Cross of Rizal from the Order of the Knights of Rizal (1998), Grand Lodge Gold Medal from the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines (1998), and Centennial Awardee in the field of law given by the United Methodist Church on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.
Chief Justice Puno served as Bar Examiner in Criminal Law (1970), Mercantile Law (1989) and Taxation (1993). He was also a Lecturer of the UP Law Center, Institute of Judicial Administration and a Professor of Law at the Far Eastern University (1969- 1973).
Apart from his judicial responsibilities, Chief Justice Puno is actively involved in civic and church activities. He is a lay preacher of the United Methodist Church and incumbent Chairman of the Administrative Council of the Puno Memorial United Methodist Church. He is past Chairman of the Administrative Board of the Knox United Methodist Church, the biggest and oldest Methodist Church in the Philippines.
A native of Manila, Justice Puno is married to the late SC Clerk of Court Luzviminda D. Puno with whom he has three children, Reynato, Jr., Emmanuel, and Ruth.