Professor Ruben Balane: A polymath


“A toast to the good life.”

Not so long ago, I wrote an article on “The Teachers Who Made Us”. I remembered my years in law school with some of my professors. One of them was Atty. Ruben F. Balane, recently deceased. He was a longtime professor, an expert in civil law and was often compared to Judge Jose BL Reyes (JBL Reyes), who was known as an expert in civil law during his lifetime. He was also a great mathematician – a person with a vast knowledge of various fields. Our first meeting with him was for an orientation to his class – in the Jesuit schools known as schola brevis – which we expected to be a quick discussion mostly riddled with details and demands. of its material. What we got instead was a revelation of man’s deep understanding and mastery of succession. We sat down, stunned and in awe of a man who was articulate and ready to share his knowledge on the subject. I never felt I was studying to be successful; I studied because I wanted to learn. I had my own notebook for his subject, writing down everything there is to write. My note taking for the estate was not good – everything was worth noting and everything was worth remembering. His eloquence and clarity greatly contributed to my excess notes on this subject. To this day, 30 years later, his explanations ring clearly in my mind, as if being taught by him right in front of me. Our learning did not stop with Succession. We had sessions where he was able to weave linguistics, literature, history, travel, anthropology and philosophy about us. I was asked to recite one day, presumably on the subject, but I prefaced the relevant discussion with a question about the equivalents of my name in Italian (tranquillo) and in Spanish (tranquilo). He was once again our professor in a civil law review class and was my group’s advisor for our “Artificial Insemination” thesis. The concept was then new, since the Family Code which established artificial insemination did not come into force until August 3, 1988. It was also at this time that he personally invited me to join him in his company, Balane, Barican, Tamase and Alampay. I barely saw him after graduation, but his reputation and his esteem for him always preceded him. He was appointed an associate judge on the Supreme Court, but fate would not take him to the Supreme Court. However, his stature as an expert in civil law has never wavered; he continued to be recognized as a “friend of the court” or amicus curiae. In the case of Anselma Diaz v. Intermediate Court of Appeal, Professor Balane, barely 50 years old in 1990, stood alongside the giants of civil law, Judge Jose BL Reyes, former Minister of Justice Ricardo C. Puno, Dr Arturo Tolentino and former judge Eduardo Caguioa. They were all invited as amicus curiae by the Supreme Court to explain the term kinship in article 992 of the New Civil Code, which provides:; neither will these children or parents inherit the illegitimate child in the same way ”(GR No. L-66574, February 21, 1990). Amicus curiae Prof. Ruben Balane has this to say: The term parents, although used several times in the Code, is not defined by it. In accordance with the canons of statutory interpretation, it must therefore be understood as having a general and inclusive scope, insofar as the term is general. Generalia verba sunt generaliter intelligenda. That the law does not make a distinction prevents us from making one: Ubi lex not distinguished, nec nosxx will distinguish debemus. x. (cited in Scaevola, op. cit., p. 457) (p. 377, Rollo). Balane, to interpret the term kinship in article 9 92 in a more restrictive sense than is used and intended is not justified by any rule of interpretation. Furthermore, it further specifies that when the law intends to use the term in a more restrictive sense, it qualifies the term as collateral, as in articles 1003 and 1009 of the New Civil Code (GR n ° L-66574, February 21, 1990). Thus, the word parent is a general term, and when used in a law, it includes not only the collateral parents, but also all the parents of the person in question, unless the context indicates that ‘it has been used in a more restrictive or limited sense – which, as we have already mentioned, is not the case here. To sum up, [W]We quote this: “The lines of this distinction between legitimate and illegitimate, which go back very far in the history of law, have been softened but not erased by current law” (GR n ° L-66574, February 21, 1990). Professor Balane was also an amicus curiae in the case of Tecson and Desiderio v. COMMELEC, Ronald Allan Kelly Poe (aka Fernando Poe, Jr), et al. (GR n ° 161434, March 3, 2004). Nowhere in the birth certificate of respondent FPJ, presented by both parties, was the signature of Allan F. Poe (father of FPJ) found. Since there was apparently no will executed (or at least proven to have been executed) by the late Allan F. Poe, the only other evidence of voluntary recognition remained “another public document”. The amicus curiae Balane defined, during the pleadings, the authentic writing as written for purposes of voluntary recognition, and as being simply the authentic or unmistakable writing of the father. The term would include a public document (duly recognized before a notary or other competent official) or a private writing recognized by the father as his own (GR n ° 161434, March 3, 2004). On the issue of judicial force of evidence, “[T]he other amicus curiae, Judge Vicente Mendoza (a former member of this Court), Professor Ruben Balane and Dean Martin Magallona, ​​basically, have expressed similar views. The petitioner’s thesis, which unfortunately rests only on pure obiter dicta, should indeed fail ”(GR n ° 161434, March 3, 2004). Perhaps the most important consideration is that the Constitution of 1935, the basic law in force at the time of the birth of respondent FPJ, can never be more explicit than it is. With no conditions or distinctions, the Constitution stipulates that among Filipino citizens are “those whose fathers are Filipino citizens”. There is absolutely no convincing justification for prescribing conditions or distinctions where there clearly are none (GR # 161434, March 3, 2004). When I started teaching at Ateneo and later at the University of the Philippines – schools where we both teach – our paths crossed again in their hallways and parking lots, and during the deliberations of the Ateneo. He would always initiate friendly jokes when we met, offering a conversation around wine and constantly telling me that we should see each other more often. It never took off, because we were both too busy; so much so that my son was ahead of me. I introduced it to Professor Balane at a seminar at Ateneo Law School, and they recalled their days with a former teacher, Mr. Onofre Pagsanghan, while being taught by the same teacher. of Ateneo High School, decades apart. He even insolently remarked, upon finding out that my son had been transferred to UP for graduate studies, that the best are these blue eagles turning brown. The last time I saw Professor Balane was a month before the pandemic, during the committee hearing of Bill 2764 or “Act Establishing the Philippine Code Commission to Revise and Codify Philippine Laws ”, where we, along with other faculty and academy members, have been invited as resource persons. This last meeting was very memorable since he proudly introduced us to three of us, resource persons, like his former students. Professor Ruben F. Balane was a teacher of the teachers. He will always be remembered for his eloquence, a presence that commands respect and the mischievous smile he wears when he relishes the fact that he knows something his students don’t. Rest in eternal peace, my teacher. In Spanish, “descansa en paz eterna mi profesor” and in Italian, “riposa in pace eterna mio professore”. A toast to a good life.

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