Honoree

Flerida Ruth P. Romero

AWARDS

Honorary Degree (2000)
LL.D.
Doctor of Laws
Commencement
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Myles Neil Brand
Maurer School of Law Academy of Law Alumni Fellows (1994)

BIOGRAPHY

Flerida Ruth P. Romero, retired Senior Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, is one of the most prominent scholar-professionals in Philippine history. Devoted to the betterment of her people and country, she has worked tirelessly for the rights of Filipino citizens, particularly women and children. Her enduring commitment to her nation has spanned all three major branches of the Philippine government: the Executive Department, the Constitutional Commission, and the Supreme Court.

Justice Romero was accepted to the Indiana University School of Law—Bloomington in 1952 on a full fellowship, and received her LL.M. degree in 1955. She often refers to Indiana University as "the family university" because her mother, Juliana C. Pineda, and her sister, Preciosa Irma Pineda Florentin, also earned graduate degrees from Indiana University.

"I first met Justice Romero when she was a student here in Bloomington in the early 1950s," said the late University Chancellor, Herman B Wells, in a letter supporting her nomination for an honorary degree. "She was a diligent, intelligent, and insightful student, and went on to have an outstanding career in her home country."

Alfred C. Aman Jr., dean of the School of Law— Bloomington, characterizes Romero's ongoing relationship with Indiana University this way: "The Honorable Romero, as an alumna, has brought honor and distinction to the IU School of Law. She is always interested to learn of the school's activities, and during her visit here in 1994, eagerly immersed herself in faculty and student activities. Justice Romero holds IU fondly in her heart." After graduation from IU, Romero returned to her homeland and began an academic career at the University of the Philippines—initially as a researcher in that university's Labor Education Center and later as a professor of law (a position she held for 22 years). A recognized expert in civil and labor law, she held the first Professorial Chair in Law and Development and later served as director of the University of the Philippines Law Center. While working on the Civil Law Revision project at the University of the Philippines Law Center, Romero was instrumental in drafting the Family Code of 1987. This was a seven-year endeavor, for which she became affectionately known as the "Mother of the Family Code." She drafted many other legislative works as well, including the Administrative Code of 1987, the Local Government Code, and the Consumer's Code.

With the assistance of her colleagues at the University of the Philippines, Romero established the Asian Labor Education Center, which eventually became the degree-granting School of Labor and Industrial Relations. This program attracts Asian labor leaders to participate in training that emphasizes the philosophy of free, responsible, and democratic trade unionism. A leader in labor law, Justice Romero was the first labor arbitrator under Presidential Decree No. 21 and often has been called upon to mediate industrial disputes. She is an accredited voluntary arbitrator.

As a legal educator, Justice Romero created media programs to popularize the law. She was a columnist for the Manila Journal from 1986 to 1988 and wrote for the Philippine Star from 1989 to 1991. As a host on radio call-in shows, she answered listeners' questions about the law in layman's terms. Through her efforts, the law of the Philippines became accessible to the Filipino people.

Justice Romero is the author of numerous scholarly works, including articles in The Journal of Professional Education, The Philippine Labor Review, The Philippine Law Review, and The Court Systems Journal, among many others.

Justice Romero had many opportunities to leave public work and pursue a private practice. Her patriotism and dedication to the people of the Philippines compelled her to remain in the public sector, however. In 1986, she was chosen by then-President Corazon Aquino to be secretary-general of the Constitutional Commission and oversee the creation of a new Philippine constitution (modeled after the United States Constitution). This new constitution, establishing a democracy and ending the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, was written in less than five months and ratified by the Filipino people that same year. From 1991 to 1999, Romero served as a justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines, the highest court in the Philippine judiciary system.

Justice Romero has vigorously fought to elevate the status of women and children through lecturing, publishing, and promoting legislation. She was chosen in 1975 to head the Philippine delegation to the International Women's Year Conference in Mexico. In 1995, Romero received the Gintong Ina Award (Golden Mother Award) and participated in the Regional Consultation on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. She presently serves as president of the Philippine Women Judges Association, as international director of the International Association of Women Judges, and as consultant to the University of the Philippines Women Lawyers' Circle.

Romero retired from her position as Senior Associate Justice on July 31,1999. On that occasion, former Philippines Supreme Court Justice Andres R. Narvasa said, "Justice Romero will be remembered as among those who most strongly influenced the development of Philippine law in the twentieth century . . . her distinguished career bears eloquent witness to more than four decades of continuous effort to promote the richness of the legal system." Romero's colleague, Associate Supreme Court Justice Minerva P. Gonzaga-Reyes, echoes these sentiments: "To women who have chosen the same path, her example is simply enlightening and her success truly inspiring. Beneath her gentle and unassuming ways lies an abundance of wisdom and strength. Yet through all her success, she remains an engaging colleague and friend."