Everyday History
Leonardo Quisumbing
Daily History Supreme Court of the Philippines

Leonardo Quisumbing was born: Nov. 6, 1939

On this day in 1939, Filipino jurist, lawyer and public servant Leonardo Quisumbing was born in Masbate, Masbate.

Quisumbing studied journalism as his undergraduate degree at the Manuel L. Quezon University in Manila, where he graduated magna cum laude. While he was a student, he was also the editor of the campus newspaper The Quezonian.

He later studied law at the University of the Philippines, where he was also president of the University Student Council, president of the Student Councils Association of the Philippines, and editor of the university newspaper Philippine Collegian. After graduating, he took the Bar Examination in 1966 and placed 12th.

Service in the Executive Department

Quisumbing’s first foray into public service was when became an assistant to Executive Secretary Rafael Salas in 1965 during the Marcos administration. He would later serve as Undersecretary of the Department of National Defense (DND) during the administration of former President Corazon Aquino and Deputy Executive Secretary and Acting Executive Secretary during the Ramos administration.

In 1996, President Ramos appointed him as Labor and Employment Secretary. During his term, he released Department Order No. 1, which amended the rules implementing Books III and VI of the Labor Code.

The amendment prohibited labor-only contracting but affirmed the practice of “permissible” contracting and other flexible employment arrangements and recognized the legitimacy of trilateral employment relations “for the purpose of increasing efficiency and streamlining operations is essential for every business to grow in an atmosphere of free competition.”

As High Tribunal member

Quisumbing served as Labor and Employment Secretary until 1998 when he was appointed as the 140th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

Among his notable opinions include cases such as Cojuangco v. Sandiganbayan (1998) on constitutional right of accused to speedy trial, Samson v. Aguirre (1999) on constitutionality of law creating a city of Novaliches, People v. Mojello (2004) on right of an accused to an independent counsel of his own choice, and Republic v. Orbecido (2005) on right of a Filipino to remarry after being divorced by a spouse who had obtained foreign citizenship.

Concurrently, Leonardo Quisumbing also served as chairperson of the SC’s Second Division and the Senate Electoral Tribunal. He was also a member of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal and penned the resolution junking the electoral protest that vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda filed against Vice President Noli de Castro.

Moreover, he was a consultant of the Judicial and Bar Council. He would serve as magistrate for over a decade until his retirement in 2009.

Leonardo Quisumbing was married to former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Dr. Purificacion Quisumbing. He died on Jan. 20, 2019 at the age of 79.


Justices of the Supreme Court.” Supreme Court of the Philippines. May 19, 2007. Accessed through web.archive.org

Public Information Office. “Annual Report 2008.” Supreme Court of the Philippines

IBON Foundation. “Contractualization: A Neoliberal Policy.” IBON Facts & Figures (excerpt). April 26, 2018

Former Associate Justice Leo Quisumbing passes away.” ABS-CBN News. January 21, 2019

Trivia Question

In 2001, Quisumbing penned the Supreme Court decision for which case wherein he expressed the admissibility of DNA evidence in court cases?

Yesterday’s answer: Jose Ruiz de Luzuriaga

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