Raul Roco

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Former Education Secretary Raul S. Roco

Raul Sagarbarria Roco (26 October 1941 – 5 August 2005) was a Filipino lawyer, senator, and a former Department of Education Secretary. He was popularly known as the “Father of Bangko Sentral” because of his contributions in the country’s banking system. Acclaimed as an “Outstanding Senator”, he was also described as “warrior lawyer” because of his fondness for debates.

He was married to Sonia Cubillo Malasarte. They had six children namely Robbie Pierre, Raul Jr., Sophia, Sareena, Rex and Synara.

Early Life and Education

Roco was born in Naga City on 26 October 1941, to Suplicio Azuela Roco and Rosario Orlando Sagabarria.

He finished elementary in Naga Parochial School at the age of 10. At the age of 14, he graduated high school at the Ateneo de Naga. In 1960, he finished his college in San Beda College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English as Magna Cum Laude. In 1964, he finished his Bachelor of Laws also in San Beda College as an Abbott Awardee for overall excellence. He obtained his Master for Comparative Law at the University of Pennsylvania as a University Fellow. At the same time, he was enrolled at the Wharton School for Multinational Studies.

In 1961, Roco served as president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP). In 1964, he was named as one of the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines. His wife Sonia was the Most Outstanding Student that same year.

Due to his various other achievements, he had been awarded seven honorary doctorates.


After passing the bar in 1965, Roco lobbied for the holding of a Constitutional Convention which aimed to amend the 1935 Philippine Constitution. He was the youngest Bicolano delegate when he won a set to represent his district in Camarines Sur.

He served as president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) from 1983 to 1985. At the same time, he was part of the legal staff of Senator Benigno Aquino and drafted the “Study Now, Pay Later” Law.

Roco also served as a film producer. In 1974, he was the executive producer of Lino Brocka's film Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang. The said film won six FAMAS Awards that year, including the Best Film Award.

He was adjudged by the Ford Foundation and the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Strategic and Development Studies as first in overall performance among all legislators of the Eighth Congress of the Philippines.

Roco served as a Senator from 1992 to 2000. He wrote the law which reformed the nation's banking system thus giving him the title “Father of the Bangko Sentral”. Some of the laws he wrote resulted in the liberalization of the banking industry and strengthening of the thrift banks. He also wrote the Intellectual Property Code and the Securities Regulation Code.

He also made several contributions to education in the Philippines. He helped fund the teachers' cooperatives and the increment mandated by the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers for retiring public school teachers. He also helped bring computers into public schools, universities, and colleges. He also devised a plan for meal scholarships for indigent students of the Philippine Normal University (PNU).

Roco also wrote bills that aim to protect and prioritize Filipino women that women's groups even named him an “Honorary Woman”. He wrote the

  • Women in Nation Building Law
  • Nursing Act
  • Anti-Sexual Harassment Law
  • Anti-Rape Law
  • Child and Family Courts Act
  • He also drafted a bill that abolished double taxation on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

Roco was awarded the Bantay Katarungan Award by Kilosbayan for playing an integral role in the Senate impeachment trial of then-President Joseph Estrada.

In 2001, Roco became the Secretary of the Department of Education. He imposed a department-wide transparency policy which held employees accountable for the purchase of textbooks which had been a major source of the department's corruption. The department was able to purchase textbooks for a much lower price. After 8 months under his leadership, the department gained a 73% public approval rating and became the most trusted.

As secretary of the Department of Education, Roco allowed free public education, through his school, as required by the Philippine Constitution. He also enacted a reform of basic education curriculum so that children would focus their studies on reading, writing, arithmetic, science, and Makabayan. He also made sure that teachers were paid promptly and that the 3% “service fee” that the department had long been deducting from the teachers' pay ended.

Roco ran for president in the 1998 and 2004 elections. He was a front-runner in pre-election surveys and was considered a strong contender but he battled with cancer. His prostate cancer recurred which forced him to leave the campaign trail for medical attention in the United States. Though his doctors said that he could continue his run for the presidency as his condition was not life-threatening, concerns about his illness diminished his support. He lost to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and finished fourth in a field of 5 candidates. Roco was the President of Aksyon Demokratiko until his death.


Roco passed away in the morning of 5 August 2005 at the age of 63 because of prostate cancer. He was buried on 11 August in Naga City.


https://www.senate.gov.ph/senators/former_senators/raul_roco.htm “Raul Roco”senate.gov.ph. (Accessed 26 October 2014).

“Raul Roco: The candidate as Mr. Clean”.pcij.org.(Accessed 26 October 2014).

“Remembering Raul Roco”.rappler.com.(Accessed 26 October 2014).

“Today in History: 1941 Raul Roco is born”.interaksyon.com.(Accessed 26 October 2014).

http://naga.gov.ph/library/rsryaaproject.html "Raul S. Roco Youth Achievement Awards" Raul S. Roco Library. (Accessed 30 October 2014).


Government agencies

Filipino politicians

Philippine presidential candidates

Senators of the Philippines

People from Camarines Sur

Filipino lawyers