Malacañang condoles with family of Ex-Justice Cuevas

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The Supreme Court paid its respects for retired Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, who passed away at age 85 on Sunday evening by flying the Philippine flag at half mast. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

The Supreme Court paid its respects for retired Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, who passed away at age 85 on Sunday evening by flying the Philippine flag at half mast. PHOTO BY RUY MARTINEZ

Malacañang on Monday expressed its condolences to the family of former Supreme Court Associate Justice Serafin Cuevas, who died on Sunday. He was 85.

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In a statement, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. recalled Cuevas’ tireless devotion to public welfare.

“We extend our condolences to the family of the late Justice Serafin Cuevas who dedicated a good portion of his life and career to public service,” Coloma told reporters.

Cuevas, a graduate of University of the Philippines College of Law, is known for handling three impeachment cases in the country, the last being the case against former Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona where he stood as the lead defense counsel.

He was also the lead defense counsel of then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, whose impeachment trial was aborted in early 2011 after she resigned, and one of the lawyers of deposed President Joseph Estrada during his impeachment trial in 2001.

Cuevas also worked as justice secretary under the Estrada administration and was an associate justice during the Marcos administration.

He became the High Court’s 106th Associate Justice, serving from June 1, 1984 to April 16, 1986.

He was a known lawyer of the influential Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) and a former chairman of New Era University, which was established by the INC.

Under his tenure, the death penalty was imposed and caused the execution via lethal injection of child rapist Leo Echagaray.

As Justice department boss, Cuevas also caused the extradition of former Manila Rep. Mark Jimenez from the United States.

The Philippine flag in the SC is now in now flying at half-staff as a sign of mourning and great respect on the occasion of the passing of Cuevas.

“I also had the privilege of knowing him as a brilliant teacher at the University of the Philippines, from where he finished his law degree and where he first made a mark in many law students’ hearts and minds. His classes in remedial law were master classes and every student who sat through his classes, regardless of the grade they got, would have one conclusion: he was a brilliant teacher,” Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno said.

According to Ombudsman Gutierrez, she will miss her mentor, former boss and friend. He is a big loss in the legal circle.

“I will miss my mentor, lawyer and friend. He was a respected member of the bench and the bar, known for his brilliance, honesty and integrity. I will never forget a good man,” Gutierrez said.

Corona said that Cuevas became like his father during the impeachment trial for he gives strength to him during those trying times.

Despite their loss in the Senate Impeachment Court, Corona said that he won’t forget the advise of Cuevas to him that they will still get a victory in the Supreme Court in the heavens.

A member of the prosecution team during the impeachment trial of former Chief Justice Renato Corona has expressed condolences to the family of the lone man who made life tough for the prosecution: the late former Supreme Court Justice Serafin Cuevas.

Meanwhile, Rep. Romero Quimbo of Marikina, who served as on the one of the spokespersons of the prosecution team during the Corona impeachment trial, noted that Cuevas had mastery of the law, knowledge of legal procedure like the back of his hand and the oratorical prowess of a debate champion.

Cuevas lawyered for Corona when the latter was prosecuted before the Senate impeachment court for betrayal of public trust over his failure to disclose all his wealth in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth from 2002 to 2010.

“With sadness, we express our deepest condolences to the family of Justice Serafin Cuevas. I can truly say that he was the only reason why our task in the impeachment panel became difficult during the Corona trial. Pinahirapan nya talaga kami [He really made life tough for us],” Quimbo said in a statement.

Corona was eventually convicted via a 20 to 3 vote.

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