On September 16, 2011, the appointment of then Court of Appeals Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court completed the 15-member High Tribunal before the year ended.
Justice Perlas-Bernabe replaced Justice Conchita Carpio Morales who, after retiring in June 2011, has since been named Ombudsman.
The 59-year old native of Plaridel, Bulacan completed her pre-law studies, Bachelor of Science in Commerce, at St. Paul College Manila graduatingmagna cum laude in 1972. After earning her law degree from the Ateneo College of Law, graduating salutatorian, and passing the Bar in 1976, she immediately joined the Judiciary as Technical Assistant in the office of then Justice Lorenzo Relova. From 1978 to 1993, she engaged in private legal practice working for China Banking Corp., Paramount Finance Corp., and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation. She later became a senior partner in Bernabe Perlas Morte & Associates from 1993 to 1996.
The year 1996 signaled her return to the Judiciary as she was named Metropolitan Trial Court Judge of the Makati City, Branch 66. In 2000, she was promoted to Regional Trial Court, Makati City, Branch 142. She was promoted to the CA on March 15, 2004.
She has been teaching Practice Court and Evidence at the Ateneo College of Law since 2009. Among her many awards are the Court of Appeals Award for Exemplary Performance, CA Award of Recognition for Outstanding Performance in Case Disposition; Best Written Decision-Municipal/Metropolitan Trial Court from the Philippine Women Judges Association; Natatanging Babaeng Hukom-Municipality of Plaridel, Bulacan; and Gawad Parangal 2008 as Outstanding Alumna for Dedicated Service to Country and People-St. Paul University Manila; and Huwaran Anak ng Bulakanand Gat Marcelo H. del Pilar Awards in 2011.
She was the Bar Examiner in Mercantile Law in 2007.