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Ex-SC justice Bersamin named GSIS chair

By: Ben O. de Vera, DJ Yap - Philippine Daily Inquirer February 15,2020 - 07:59 AM

MANILA, Philippines — Former Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, whose tenure in the Supreme Court was marked by a number of controversial decisions that tended to favor the Duterte administration, will take the helm of the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), Malacañang said on Friday.

The former top magistrate’s appointment as GSIS chair and member of the government-controlled corporation’s board of trustees was announced four months after he left the judiciary in October.

“The Palace confirms that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has approved the nomination of Mr. Lucas P. Bersamin as chairperson of the Government Service Insurance System,” presidential spokesperson and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said.

The Palace official praised the 70-year-old Bersamin, a bar topnotcher, for his “sterling record” of public service capped by a 10-year service in the Supreme Court where he assumed the position of Chief Justice in 2018.

He served for 11 months as the chief magistrate, earning a reputation as being friendly to Mr. Duterte’s administration in deciding cases before the tribunal.

Among the cases decided by the Supreme Court in recent years, Bersamin voted to allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016, to extend martial law in Mindanao indefinitely in February 2019, and to grant the Duterte administration’s quo warranto petition to sack then Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

He voted against Sen. Leila de Lima’s petition to quash drug charges against her in October 2017.

Bersamin voted in August 2015 to grant bail to then Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile in the pork barrel scam, allow Sen. Grace Poe to run for President in 2016, and dismiss plunder charges against former President Gloria Arroyo in July 2016.

It was Arroyo who appointed Bersamin to the high court in 2009.

He finished law at the University of the East in 1973 and placed ninth in the bar examinations.

Former chair Rolando Macasaet will remain acting president and general manager of the state-run pension fund, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said on Friday.

Macasaet first joined the GSIS as chair in June 2018 when he replaced Francisco Duque III after the latter was appointed Health Secretary.

When former president and general manager Jesus Clint Aranas resigned from the GSIS following a falling out with Duterte due to the plan to sell the Manila International Port Terminal Inc. property currently occupied by the Enrique Razon-led International Container Terminal Services Inc., Macasaet initially took over as officer in charge on July 4 last year.

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