The Manila Times


MAY 13 marks the fifth anniversary of the death of one of the country’s great leaders and statesmen, the Senate president Edgardo “Ed” Angara. Angara, an educator, lawyer, banker, farmer and patron of the arts, was the longest-serving senator in the post-EDSA Senate. Except for a mandatory term break, he was elected to four consecutive terms of six years each. A senator has a six-year term with one reelection except to those who ranked 13th to 24th in the 1992 elections as their term was limited to three years as provided for in the transitory provisions of the 1987 Constitution. Angara started his political career when he was elected in Quezon province as one of the delegates to the 1971 Constitutional Convention. He ran for vice president in 1998 as running mate of then vice president Joseph Estrada, but lost to then senator Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Together with his classmates in law school, Angara was among those who founded the Angara, Concepcion, Cruz, Regala and Abello law office which is more known as ACCRA Law, one of the country’s top law firms. In 1975, Angara became president of the Philippine Bar Association, the oldest voluntary bar society in the country, and in 1979 president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the unified association of lawyers, demonstrating his emergence as one of the most prominent leaders of the Bar. From 1981 to 1987, Angara served as president of the University of the Philippines. Through his initiative, the general education program was strengthened, a seven-year honors medical curriculum installed, the arts and basic science energized, and a multi-campus university organization was put in place. He is best remembered for defending the state university’s tradition of dissent and obtaining fiscal autonomy. His efforts contributed to upholding its reputation for academic excellence as the country’s premier educational center. During the 8th Congress (19871992), he headed the Congressional Commission on Education that restructured and instituted wide-ranging reforms in the country’s educational system. In 1993, his peers elected him Senate president, the third highest political office of the land. His tenure as Senate president has been the most outstanding to date, according to the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey. Angara was able to push for the passage of some of the country’s most memorable laws. These include the Free High School Act, Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skill Development Authority, the National Health Insurance Act, Senior Citizens Act, the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act, the Renewable Energy Act and the Procurement Reform Act. Angara has also shown deep commitment for the promotion of culture and the arts as the author and sponsor of the laws creating the National Museum, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts and the Natatanging Manlilikha Award, which bestows honor on the Filipino folk and traditional artists. He also authored the National Book Publishing Industry Development Act and the National Cultural Heritage Law. He served as chairman of the Philippine National Bank (19981999). His knowledge of the financial markets led to the passage of reform laws for the country’s capital markets. These include the Credit Information System Act, Personal Equity And Retirement Account, Real Estate Investment Trust, Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp. charter, Pag-IBIG Fund charter, Pre-Need Code and Financial Rehabilitation and Insolvency Act. As secretary of agriculture (19992001), Angara had the opportunity to implement his own creation, the AFMA. In 2001, he served as executive secretary of former president Joseph Estrada, during which he oversaw the peaceful transition of power after the second people power revolution. Angara’s drive for good governance likewise enjoyed international support. He was a member of the executive board of the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption and was elected its vice president during the group’s fourth global conference in Mexico City in 2011. Angara’s productive track record and systemic approach to reform is a clear proof that, despite formidable odds, genuine reforms can be accomplished in the country.