Loren Legarda is a Filipino broadcast journalist, environmentalist, and politician of Visayan ancestry, notable as the only female to top two senatorial elections (1998) and 2007). During the 2004 Philippine general election, she ran for the position of Vice-President as an Independent with Fernando Poe, Jr. as running mate and again during the 2010 Philippine presidential election, for the same position as a member of the NPC with Manny Villar. She is considered as one of the five most influential women in the Philippines.
Legarda is a notable advocate of Climate Change Awareness and has numerous achievements in the fields of social development and human rights advocacy along with her work in journalism. As a journalist, she has received many awards. In 2008, she was chosen as “United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Asia Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation”. She was a member of the Philippine delegation during the 2009 Copenhagen Summit.
Loren Legarda was born on January 28, 1960 in Malabon as Lorna Regina Bautista Legarda, the only daughter of Antonio Cabrera Legarda of San Pablo, Laguna, and Bessie Gella Bautista of Malabon. Her maternal grandfather was Jose P. Bautista, an editor of the pre-Martial Law newspaper, The Manila Times As a teenager, she appeared as a commercial model and/or DJ in various television and print ads for Close-up, Pond’s cream, and Hapee toothpaste, among others.
She attended Assumption College from primary to high school, where she was a valedictorian. She attended university in the University of the Philippines, from which she graduated a cum laude.
RPN 9 and ABS-CBN (1985-1998)
Legarda began a career in journalism as a reporter for RPN-9, during which she covered topics including Imelda Marcos’ trip to Kenya and the People Power Revolution. During this period, she obtained a master’s degree in National Security Administration from the National Defense College of the Philippines, graduating at the top of the class with gold medals for Academic Excellence and Best Thesis.Later, she would move to the television station ABS-CBN, where Legarda would achieve her best success in her career as a journalist. She became the anchor of the television newscast, The World Tonight, and became the host of the current affairs series, The Inside Story.An important moment in this time was her interview with Michael Jackson, who dedicated the song Heal the World to the Filipino people.[citation needed.
During this period, she received more than thirty major awards, including the Catholic Mass Media Hall of Fame, KBP Golden Dove Award, the Gawad CCP, and the Ten Outstanding Young Men and Women award.
Senate, 1st term (1998-2004)
After becoming urged by the Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos, Legarda ran for the Senate in 1998 under the Lakas-NUCD-UMDP Party. She was elected with more than 15 million votes, allowing her to be the highest vote-getter in that year's election. During her tenure, she played crucial roles in the release of several hostages abducted as a result of the Insurgency in the Philippines. These include the release from captivity of five military and police officers and personnel (including General Victor Obillo of the Philippine Army) held by the CPP-NPA-NDF in April 1999, of Philippine Army Major Noel Buan in April 2001 from two years of captivity, and fellow journalist Arlene dela Cruz from her Abu Sayyaf abductors in Jolo.
During her first six years in the Senate, Legarda authored legislation benefiting women's and children's rights, such as the following:
Anti-Domestic Violence Act - seeks to uphold and protect the basic human rights of women and their children.
Anti-Child Labor law - limits the employment of children below 15 years old, restricts the hours of work of working children, expands working children's access to education, social, medical and legal assistance.
Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act - aims to protect victims of human trafficking.
She also authored the following laws:
Ecological Solid Waste Management Law - created the National Solid Waste Management Commission, which aims to establish segregation among garbage and wastes.
Tropical Fabric Law - prescribes the use of Philippine tropical fabrics for official uniforms of government officials and employees and for the purposes, which require the use of fabrics in government offices and functions.
Aside from these achievements, she has allowed dozens of former child laborers to enroll in school through the Libro ni Loren Foundation. She established regular medical missions to benefit breast cancer patients through the Bessie Legarda Memorial Foundation, which was named for her own mother. Loren Legarda played a crucial role in the 2000-01 impeachment trial of Joseph Estrada, and her actions eventually helped spark the 2001 EDSA Revolution. She was later chosen to be the Senate's Majority Floor Leader from 2001-2004.
2004 elections and ABC 5 (2004-2007)
Senator Loren Legarda during a 2007 Philippine Military Academy ceremony.
In 2003, Legarda left Lakas-CMD (after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo broke her pledge not to run again for president) and joined the KNP coalition of Fernando Poe, Jr. as an Independent during the 2004 elections.
On January 18, 2008, in a 21-page resolution, penned by Senior Justice Leonardo Quisumbing, the Supreme Court of the Philippines, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), dismissed Sen. Loren Legarda's electoral protest against Noli de Castro. Three reasons supported the judgment: first, the PET approved the recommendation of Hearing Commissioner and former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair retired SC Justice Bernardo P. Pardo that “the pilot-tested revision of ballots or re-tabulation of the certificates of canvass would not affect the winning margin of the protestee in the final canvass of the returns, in addition to the ground of abandonment or withdrawal by reason of Protestant’s candidacy for, election and assumption of the office Senator of the Philippines”; second, Legarda’s failure to pay the P 3.9 million ($1=P 40) revision of ballots (in 124,404 precincts) fee despite court extension under Rule 33 of the PET; and third, jurisprudence of Defensor Santiago v. Ramos, teaches that Legarda "effectively abandoned or withdrawn her protest when she ran in the Senate, which term coincides with the term of the Vice-Presidency 2004-2010".[citation needed
Senate, 2nd term and 2010 elections (2007-present)
In 2007, Legarda decided to run again for Senate under the banner of the Genuine Opposition coalition. She won, receiving more than 18 million votes, which allowed her to become the top vote-getter in that election. On January 10, 2008, rumors arose that Legarda would run for president after she topped a survey held during that period. Later that month, she donated 1 million pesos for 4-year-old deaf Filipino Raphael Angelo Provido’s cochlear implant at the Philippine General Hospital. She was instrumental in negotiating the release of ABS-CBN News journalist Ces Drilon from the Abu Sayyaf. On July 14, 2009, she announced her intention to run as president during the 2010 elections. On August 15, her bill, the Magna Carta on Women was passed. On October 23 of that same year, during the launch of her humanitarian program “Lingkod Loren in Luneta”, she formally declared her intention to run for vice-president in 2010 under Nationalist People’s Coalition with the platform of environmentalism. After Francis Escudero, expected to run for president, left the NPC,she decided that it would be best to stick with the Nacionalista Party’s presidential candidate, Manny Villar, as a guest-running mate.
So far in her second term as senator, Legarda has filed the following laws:
Expanded Senior Citizens Law – seeks to increase the discount granted to senior citizens to 32% on goods and services, impose stiffer penalties to establishments which refuse to honor senior citizen card, etc.
Climate Change Law – builds resilience to the impacts of climate change through the mainstreaming of climate change in various phases of policy formulation, development plans, poverty reduction strategies and other development tools by all agencies of government.
Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Act – requires lending institutions to allocate at least eight percent of their total loan portfolio to micro and small businesses.
Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act – fixes the maximum retail price of certain medicines and increases access of cheaper medicines in the country.
Revised Agri-Agra Law – mandates banks to devote 25% of their loanable funds to agriculture and agrarian reform beneficiaries.
Legarda lost her bid for the Philippine vice-presidency to Jejomar Binay placing third in the 2010 Philippine presidential elections. As a result, she continuedto serve in the Senate. In 2010, Legarda was given chairmanship for the Senate committees on climate change, cultural communities, and foreign affairs.She would later go to the United Nations to deposit the Philippines ratification for the International Criminal Court membership. As a result of Koko Pimentel’s win in his case against Juan Miguel Zubiri, evidence about Legarda’s cheating allegations against Noli de Castro and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo have surfaced.
Cables leaked by Wikileaks include her as one of the five most influential women in the Philippines, together with journalist Malou Mangahas, Ombudswoman Merceditas Gutierrez, former Isabela Governor Grace Padaca, and celebrity icon Kris Aquino.
With her “Luntiang Pilipinas” foundation, Legarda has planted over two million trees all over the Philippine archipelago. The charity also launched its 10@10: The Ten Million Trees Campaign, a viral tree planting campaign with the intention of planting 10 million trees by the year 2011. This campaign aims to contribute to the United Nations Environmental Program, which aims to reach the seven billion-tree mark by 2009. One of her major accomplishments as an environmentalist is the passage of the Climate Change Act in October 2009. She filed this bill two years ago, through inspiration from the Albay Declaration, the outcome document of the First National Conference on Climate Change Adaptation, as it called for “the passage of a policy prioritizing climate change adaptation in the national agenda”. Legarda was chosen by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a member of the Philippine delegation during the 2009 Copenhagen Summit.
Legarda was named as one of the “Global Leaders for Tomorrow” by the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2000, and was awarded by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) in Turin, Italy, for her work on the environment in 2001. In 2004, she became an Environment Awardee of the Priyadarshni Academy in Mumbai, India. In 2008, Legarda was appointed as UNISDR Asia Pacific Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, and she participated in the Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction, the BBC World Debate: ‘Prevent or React’, and the Forum on the Human Impact of Climate Change in Geneva, Switzerland.