After a two-year stint as Secretary of Labor and Employment, former Court of Appeals (CA) Associate Justice Arturo D. Brion came home to the Judiciary upon taking his oath as the Highest Court’s 161st magistrate on March 17, 2008 before Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno.
Justice Brion’s work experience cuts a swath across the three branches of government and showcases the multiple facets of law practice.
He began his law career in private law practice, mostly in labor law, with the Siguion Reyna Montecillo & Ongsiako Law Offices from 1975 to 1982. At the same time, he shared his legal knowledge in the academe as a member of the Ateneo de Manila University Faculty of Law from 1976 to 1981, and in 1986.
He entered government service in 1982 as Executive Director of the Institute of Labor and Manpower Studies under the Philippine Ministry of Labor. In 1984, he was elected Mambabatas Pambansa in the Philippine National Assembly where he was Vice-Chair of the Labor and Employment Committee and a member of the Committee on Revision of Laws and Constitutional Amendments. He was also appointed Deputy Minister of Labor for Legal and Legislative Affairs from 1985 to 1986 under the then prevailing semi-parliamentary system of government.
He returned to private practice as Senior Partner of the Natividad, Delos Reyes, Maambong & Brion Law Firm from 1986 to 1988, and subsequently of the Siguion Reyna Law Office from 1995 to 2001. He also worked as a consultant for the Civil Service Commission on public sector unionism, leading to the paper “Public Sector Unionism €“ a Proposed Reconfiguration,” and returned to teach at Ateneo Law from 1995 to 1997. He likewise taught at the University of the Philippines School of Labor and Industrial Relations from 2001 to 2002 and the Far Eastern University Institute of Law from 2005 to 2006.
From these forays into other areas of law, he went back to full-time government service in 2001 as Undersecretary of Labor for Labor Relations of the Department of Labor and Employment, and a year after, as Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs for Special Projects of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Justice Brion, the son of retired Regional Trial Court Judge Edon B. Brion and Laura S. Dizon, crossed from Bar to Bench when he was appointed Court of Appeals Associate Justice in July 2003. He was a Senior Member of the Appellate Court’s 15th Division until July 2006, when he accepted the task of leading the country’s Department of Labor and Employment as its Secretary. He has since joined the Judiciary anew to complete the 15-member High Tribunal, filling in the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez.
Although born in Manila on December 29, 1946, Justice Brion considers himself a true son of San Pablo, Laguna, the City of Seven Lakes, where he spent his pre-school, elementary, and high school years. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics degree from the San Pablo Colleges before taking up his law studies at the Ateneo de Manila University.
At law school, he became Editor-in-Chief of the Ateneo Law Journal, and finished his Bachelor of Laws degree with the distinction of being Cum Laude, Class Valedictorian, and awardee of theGolden Leaf Award, Gold Medal for Academic Excellence, and First Honors Gold Medal. He ranked first place in the Bar Examinations held that same year, with a grade of 91.65%.
Despite his achievements, Justice Brion never ceased in his pursuit of knowledge. In the middle of his legal career, he went to obtain his Master of Laws degree at the Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto, Canada in 1994, with Labor Law as his main area of study. While serving as a magistrate of the appellate court, Justice Brion enrolled in Spanish language classes at the Instituto Cervantes where he is now at Nivel (level) 13. While in his masteral studies, he worked with the Ontario Ministry of Labor and the Management Board Secretariat, and was Editor-in-Chief of Legal Update, a publication of the Legal Services Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Labor from 1992 to 1993.
Justice Brion is married to chemist-lawyer Atty. Antonietta C. Articona-Brion. They are blessed with two similarly multi-skilled children: Antonella A. Brion, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from York University in Toronto, Canada, but is now both a writer and a painter after her masteral studies in fine arts; and Arturo Brion, Jr., a computer engineering graduate of McMaster University and Bachelor of Laws degree holder from the University of New Brunswick, now engaged in Intellectual Property Law Practice in Ottawa, Canada.
Justice Brion is a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Philippine Bar Association, and for a time, of the Law Society of Upper Canada. He was Chapter President of the IBP, Laguna Chapter form 1981 to 1983, National President of the YMCA of the Philippines in 1985, and a member of its National Board in 2006. He is also a Mason and is a member of the Teodoro Kalaw Memorial Lodge No 136, Malinaw Lodge No. 25, the Manila Bodies No. 1 (A.&A.S.R.), and the Royal Order of Scotland.