Loren Legarda

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To read this article in Filipino, see Loren Legarda.

Lorna Regina "Loren" Bautista Legarda (born 28 January 1960) is a politician and former journalist. She is currently the representative of Antique. She previously served as a senator for three terms, from 1998 to 2004, from 2007 to 2013, and from 2013 to 2019. She topped the senate elections in 1998 and 2007, the only female senator to have done so.[1] As a senator, she initiated a number of culture, human rights, education, and environment-related laws in the Philippines, such as the Climate Change Law and Anti-Domestic Violence Act.

Legarda unsuccessfully ran for vice president twice: in 2004 as Fernando Poe Jr.'s running mate and in 2010 as Manny Villar’s running mate.

On 1 October 2021, Legarda filed her certificate of candidacy for the 2022 senatorial election.[2]

Early life

Lorna Regina “Loren” Bautista Legarda was born on 28 January 1960 in Malabon, Metro Manila to Antonio Cabrera Legarda and Bessie Gella Bautista. Her maternal grandfather, Jose P. Bautista, was an editor-in-chief of The Manila Times.[3]  

She received her primary, elementary and secondary education from Assumption College, graduating valedictorian of her grade school class. As a teenager, she dabbled in modeling for print and television.[4]

She took up broadcast communications at the University of the Philippines Diliman and graduated cum laude in 1981. She completed post-graduate studies in journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles.[5]

Career in journalism

Legarda’s journalism career began when she worked as a reporter for RPN. During this stint, she covered Imelda Marcos’s trip to Kenya and the People Power Revolution. While with the network, Legarda pursued master’s studies in national security administration at the National Defense College of the Philippines, finishing at the top of her class and earning awards for academic excellence and best thesis.[6]

In 1986, she transferred to ABS-CBN and became a co-anchor on the newscast The World Tonight alongside Angelo Castro Jr. In 1990, she took on the hosting role on the network’s public affairs show The Inside Story.[7] She left the network in the run-up to her campaign for the 1998 senatorial elections.

Political career

Senate, 1998 to 2004

Legarda was part of Lakas-NUCD-UMDP's lineup of candidates for the 1998 elections.[8] She topped the election with 15 million votes.

During this term, Legarda authored the Anti-Domestic Violence Act, the Anti-Child Labor Law, he Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act, and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law. She also authored the Tropical Fabric Law, which requires the use of local fabrics in crafting government officials’ uniforms and other garments worn in official functions. From 2001 to 2004, she served as the Senate’s majority floor leader, the first woman to hold the role.[9]

Vice-presidential election, 2004

In 2003, Legarda left Lakas CMD after Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who was also a member of the party, broke her promise not to run for president in the 2004 elections. She then joined presidential hopeful Fernando Poe Jr.’s Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino and ran for vice president. Macapagal-Arroyo and Noli de Castro won the presidential and vice-presidential races, respectively.

The 2004 election results were highly contested. In June 2005, allegations and evidence of electoral fraud against the proclaimed winner of the presidential race, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, surfaced.[10] The crisis came to be referred to as the Hello Garcia scandal, after the Comelec commissioner, Virgilio Garcillano, who was alleged to have facilitated the rigging in favor of Macapagal-Arroyo. She finished her six-year term, in 2010, after the impeachment complaints filed against her in relation to the electoral fraud allegations were dropped by her allies in Congress.[11]

Senate, 2007 to 2013

After her unsuccessful bid to be vice president, Legarda eyed a return to the Senate. She ran in the 2007 elections and garnered 18 million votes, the highest in the race, making this the second instance of her topping a senate election.[12]

During this term, she authored the Expanded Senior Citizens Law, which grants a 32% discount on goods and services purchased by senior citizens and imposes bigger fines on establishments that refuse to abide by the law. She also authored the Magna Carta on Women and the Climate Change Law.

Although she initially expressed her intention to run for president in the 2010 elections, she joined the vice presidential race as presidential candidate Manny Villar’s running mate. She lost to Jejomar Binay, while Villar lost to Benigno Simeon Aquino III. Legarda then returned to the Senate to resume her six-year term.

Senate, 2013 to 2019

Legarda vied for a third term in the Senate in 2013 and scored the second-highest number of votes. In this term, she supported a number of senate bills on the country’s indigenous heritage, the environment, and political transparency. These included the Freedom of Information bill, the Total Logging Ban bill, the Magna Carta for the Poor bill, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation bill, the Solo Parents’ bill, and the Final Forest Limits bill, among others.

House of Representatives, 2019 to 2022

Upon the expiration of her term in the Senate in 2019, Legarda ran for representative of the province and district of Antique in the May 2019 elections. She defeated Exequiel Javier, who belongs to the Javier dynasty which ruled in the province for 32 years, by a wide margin.  

Legislative Accomplishments

The following are the laws principally authored by Legarda during her three terms as senator.

  • Republic Act No. 9177 – Eid'ul Fitr Holiday Law – declares Eid'ul Fitr a national holiday and Eid’ul Adha a regional holiday in the Bangsamoro.
  • Republic Act No. 9189 – Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003 – provides for a system of overseas absentee voting by qualified citizens.
  • Republic Act No. 9231 – 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.
  • Republic Act No. 9242 – Philippine Tropical Fabric Law – prescribes the use of Philippine tropical fabrics for official uniforms of government.
  • Republic Act No. 9245 – Philippine Ear Research Institute Act – provided for the creation of the Philippine National Ear Institute.
  • Republic Act No. 9262 – Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act – protects the basic human rights of women and their children.
  • Republic Act No. 9500 – University of the Philippines Charter of 2008 – strengthens the University of the Philippines as a national university.
  • Republic Act No. 9501 – Magna Carta for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises Act – requires lending institutions to allocate at least eight percent of their total loan portfolio to micro and small businesses.
  • Republic Act No. 9506 – Bacolor Rehabilitation Council Act – established the Bacolor rehabilation council.
  • Republic Act No. 9509 – Barangay Kabuhayan Act – establishes livelihood and skills training centers in fourth, fifth and sixth class municipalities.
  • Republic Act No. 9512 – Environmental Awareness Education Act – mandates various agencies to integrate environmental education in its school curricula at all levels.
  • Republic Act No. 9593 – Tourism Act of 2009 – provides fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to registered enterprises in the tourism enterprise zones.
  • Republic Act No. 8749 – Clean Air Act – Provides for a comprehensive air pollution control policy.
  • Republic Act No. 9709 – Universal Newborn Hearing Screening and Intervention Act of 2009 – provides mandatory hearing loss screening to infants.
  • Republic Act No. 9710 – Magna Carta of Women – provides the necessary mechanisms to enforce and guarantee the realization of women's rights.
  • Republic Act No. 9711 – Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009 – strengthens the regulatory capacity of the current Bureau of Food and Drugs.
  • Republic Act No. 9729 – Climate Change Act of 2009 – 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 and techniques by all agencies and instrumentalities of the government. The law was lauded by the United Nations as the 'best in the world'.
  • Republic Act No. 9994 – Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010 – increased the discount granted to senior citizens, imposed stiffer penalties to pharmacies and drug stores which refuse to honor senior citizen card issued by the government, and provides them free vaccination against influenza virus and other pneumococcal disease.
  • Republic Act No. 9513 – Renewable Energy Act – mandated the establishment of a framework for the accelerated development and advancement of renewable energy resources.
  • Republic Act No. 9003 – Solid Waste Management Act – created the National Solid Waste Management Commission which aims to establish segregation among garbage and wastes.
  • Republic Act No. 10174 – Amendatory Law of the Climate Change Act – provides for the creation of the People's Survival Fund.
  • Republic Act No. 10361 – Kasambahay Law – provides protections for household help workers, safeguarding their rights to proper labor practices and benefits.
  • Republic Act No. 10533 – Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013 – seeks to advance the basic education system of the Philippines.
  • Republic Act No. 10606 – Universal Healthcare Act – provides Filipinos the rights to universal healthcare.
  • Republic Act No. 10924 – General Appropriations Act of 2017 – provides the 2017 National Budget of the Republic of the Philippines.
  • Republic Act No. 10964 – General Appropriations Act of 2018 – provides the 2018 National Budget of the Republic of the Philippines.
  • Republic Act No. 11038 – Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act – expands the coverage of the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act.
  • Republic Act No. 11053 – Anti-Hazing Law of 2018 – criminalizes the act of hazing.
  • Republic Act No. 11194 – Gabaldon School Buildings Conservation Act – mandates various agencies to implement a program for the identification and conservation of all Gabaldon school buildings.

Personal life

Legarda married former Batangas governor Antonio Leviste in 1989. They have two sons together, Lorenzo and Leandro. Legarda and Leviste’s marriage was annulled in 2008, five years after their separation. In 2009, Leviste was sentenced to six to 12 years in prison after being found guilty of killing longtime aide Rafael de las Alas. He was granted parole in December 2013.[13]

Legarda is a colonel in the Philippine Air Force Reserve Corps.[14] She has residences in Malabon, his father’s hometown, and Antique, her mother’s hometown.[15]




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