Franklin Drilon

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The Honorable
Franklin Drilon
Franklin drilon.jpg
Drilon in 2013
Minority Floor Leader of the Senate of the Philippines
Assumed office
February 28, 2017
Preceded by Ralph Recto
President pro tempore of the Senate of the Philippines
In office
July 25, 2016 – February 27, 2017
Preceded by Ralph Recto
Succeeded by Ralph Recto
Senator of the Philippines
Assumed office
30 June 2010
In office
30 June 1995 – 30 June 2007
Chair of the Philippine Senate
Finance Committee
In office
July 26, 2010 – July 22, 2013
Preceded by Edgardo Angara
Succeeded by Francis Escudero
22nd, 24th and 27th President of the Senate of the Philippines
In office
July 22, 2013 – June 25, 2016
President Benigno Aquino III
Preceded by Juan Ponce Enrile
Succeeded by Aquilino Pimentel III
In office
July 23, 2001 – July 24, 2006
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Preceded by Aquilino Pimentel, Jr.
Succeeded by Manny Villar
In office
July 12, 2000[1] – November 13, 2000
President Joseph Estrada
Preceded by Blas Ople
Succeeded by Aquilino Pimentel, Jr.
Majority leader of the Senate of the Philippines
In office
January 26, 1998 – July 12, 2000
President Fidel Ramos
Joseph Estrada
Preceded by Francisco Tatad
Succeeded by Francisco Tatad
Executive Secretary
In office
July 15, 1991 – June 30, 1992
President Corazon Aquino
Preceded by Oscar Orbos
Succeeded by Peter Garuccho
Secretary of Justice
In office
July 1, 1992 – February 2, 1995
President Fidel Ramos
Preceded by Silvestre H. Bello III
Succeeded by Demetrio G. Demetria
In office
January 4, 1990 – July 14, 1991
President Corazon Aquino
Preceded by Sedfrey A. Ordoñez
Succeeded by Silvestre H. Bello III
Secretary of Labor and Employment
In office
President Corazon Aquino
Personal details
Born Franklin Magtunao Drilon
(1945-11-28) November 28, 1945 (age 72)
Iloilo City, Iloilo, Commonwealth of the Philippines
Nationality Filipino
Political party Liberal Party (2003– Present)
Independent (2000–2003)
LAMMP (1998–2000)
Lakas-NUCD (1995–1998)
UNIDO (1987-1995)
Spouse(s) Violeta Calvo (Deceased)
Mila Serrano-Genuino
Children Eliza Drilon
Patrick Drilon
Residence Iloilo City, Iloilo
San Juan City, Metro Manila
Alma mater University of the Philippines Diliman
Occupation Lawyer, Politician

Franklin "Frank" Magtunao Drilon (born November 28, 1945) is a Filipino politician who served as President of the Senate of the Philippines in 2000, from 2001 to 2006, and again from 2013 to 2016. Drilon is currently the Minority Floor Leader of the Senate of the Philippines and serving his third term in the Senate. He is also the chairman of the Liberal Party.

Early life[edit]

Drilon was born on November 28, 1945 in Iloilo City, Iloilo and is the eldest son of Cesar Drilon, Sr. and Primitiva Magtunao. He took his elementary education at the Baluarte Elementary School in Molo, Iloilo, Iloilo and graduated in 1957. He finished his secondary education at the U.P. - Iloilo College (now University of the Philippines High School in Iloilo) in 1961.

In college he went to the University of the Philippines Diliman (U.P.) where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1965. At U.P., he was the associate editor of the student newspaper Philippine Collegian and served as councilor of the U.P. Student Council. Among his classmates were future politicians Miriam Defensor Santiago and Ronaldo Zamora. In 1969, he completed his Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) at the U.P. College of Law. In the same year he took the bar examination and finished with the third highest score.

In the same year, he served as an associate lawyer of Sycip, Salazar, Luna, Manalo & Feliciano Law Offices[2] (now SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan). He moved to Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala & Cruz Law Offices[3] (ACCRALaw) in 1974, where he still serves as Senior Counsel. ACCRALaw elevated him to partner in 1975, co-managing partner in 1981 and managing partner in 1986.

Drilon was also a Bar Examiner on Labor and Social Legislation in the 1979 and 1984 bar examinations. He also became the vice-president and governor of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) and the vice-president, Board member and treasurer of the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP).

Political career[edit]

Drilon served the government and public corporations through the following positions:

  • Department of Justice
    • Secretary, (1990–1991; 1992–1995)
    • Chairman, Board of Pardons and Parole
    • Member, Judicial and Bar Council (JBC)
    • Member, National Unification Commission
    • Chairman, Presidential Committee on Human Rights (PCHR)
  • Executive Secretary (1991–1992)
    • Chairman, Cabinet Cluster on Political & Security Matters (Cluster "E")
    • Member, National Security Council (NSC)
    • Vice-Chairman, Committee on Privatization (COP)
  • Member, Joint Legislative-Executive Foreign Debt Council
  • Department of Labor and Employment
    • Secretary, (1987–1990)
    • Deputy Minister for Industrial Relations, Department of Labor and Employment (1986–1987)
    • Member, Presidential Agrarian Reform Council (PARC)
    • Commissioner, Social Security Commission
    • Chairman, National Labor Relations Commission
    • Chairman, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration
    • Chairman, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration
    • Chairman, Employee Compensation Commission
    • Trustee, Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund)
    • Board Member, National Housing Authority
    • Chairman, National Manpower and Youth Council
    • Chairman, National Wages Council
    • Chairman, National Maritime Polytechnic
    • Vice-Chairman, Public Sector Labor-Management Counci
    • Chairman, Philippine National Bank (PNB)
    • Director, Philippine Air Lines (PAL)
    • Director, Land Bank of the Philippines
    • Board Member, Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation
    • Board Member, Population Commission
    • Cabinet Officer for Regional Development (CORD) of Region VI

Cory Aquino cabinet[edit]

As Justice Secretary, Drilon was instrumental in the prosecution and conviction of Mayor Antonio Sanchez of Calauan, Laguna, who masterminded the rape-slaying of a UP Los Baños coed and the murder of his friend; and Claudio Teehankee, Jr., who was figured in the gun slaying of Maureen Hultman. Both cases ended up in convictions.


In 1992, most of the Aquino cabinet were drafted for the Senate candidate line-up of the newly created party, Lakas Tao; Drilon opted to help President Aquino finish her term. He was again given the opportunity to run as a senatorial candidate of the LakasLaban coalition in the 1995 election. He got the fourth highest number of votes in that Senate race. In 1998, he bolted Lakas and joined the Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino (LAMMP) and supported Joseph Estrada in the presidency contest. He was selected as Senate Majority Floor Leader the same year. In 1999, he was among those who voted in favor of the ratification of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

When Marcelo Fernan died of cancer the same year, he made concessions with Blas Ople in sharing the seat of the Senate President. They agreed that Ople will serve as Senate President from 1999–2000 and he would serve from 2000-2001. Ople served his term from July 1999-July 2000. Drilon was installed as Senate President in July 2000. On October 2000 he issued a statement about the Juetengate Scandal of President Joseph Estrada. He was removed the next month through a Senate revamp and Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. was installed as Senate President (Drilon would also be succeeded by his son Aquilino Pimentel III as Senate President in 2016). On December 2000, an impeachment case was filed against President Estrada in the Senate. During the January 13, 2001 session of the impeachment proceedings, he was one of those who voted in favor of the opening of a mysterious second bank envelope. Their vote was outnumbered and Drilon was remembered as the Senator who cried in front of Senate President Pimentel together with Senator Loren Legarda, as impeachment lawyers walked out of the session hall in protest. Joseph Estrada was subsequently ousted that very evening by what would be remembered as the second EDSA People Power Revolution. Drilon allowed Pimentel to occupy the Senate presidency until the end of the regular session in June 2001.

Drilon in 2007.

When the session resumed in July 2001, Pimentel was replaced by Drilon as Senate President. Pimentel bolted the administration coalition and joined forces with the opposition coalition. In 2003, administration coalition partner Liberal Party, to which President Arroyo's father, Diosdado Macapagal, served as chairman in the 1960s, invited Drilon to be its member. Days later, Drilon was elected chairman of the political party. Before the 2004 elections, Drilon invited Senator Rodolfo Biazon to be a party member. Biazon bolted Raul Roco's Aksyon Demokratiko {AD} only days after he joined that party's convention to become the Liberal Party's new member.

Drilon had close contacts with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo since 2001 and actively supported her when she ran for a fresh mandate to occupy the office of the President. That relationship ended on July 8, however, when Drilon---together with Biazon and some prominent members of the Liberal Party---decided to withdraw their support for her and asked for her resignation. In Arroyo's 2005 State of the Nation Address, Drilon was the only one noticed not applauding throughout the entire program. Drilon has been a vocal critic of the NorthRail project, a Chinese government-backed project to overhaul Manila's decrepit railway system. The railway was to be the first double-tracked railway in the country, and was expected to eventually extend to Clark in Pampanga and, according to the architects, as far north as San Fernando, La Union. During his second term as Senate President, Drilon spearheaded the Senate's confronting the excesses of the executive branch by authorizing the Senate standing committees to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation; he led the Chamber in opposing Executive Order No. 264, which prohibited members of the Cabinet from attending hearings of Congress, the Senate in particular, without permission from the President; he also opposed Proclamation No. 1017, which imposed a state of national emergency in the country. The Supreme Court sustained the Senate's stand on the two issues. He was hailed by all as the leading defender of the Senate's independence and of its constitutional duties. Drilon likewise led the Senate in opposing moves by the House of Representatives to amend the Constitution that would supposedly shift the legislature to a unicameral legislature, abolishing the Senate. In 2006, Drilon was succeeded as Senate President by Senator Manny Villar in accordance with a term-sharing agreement they forged in early 2004.

Drilon ran again for the Senate as independent but was under the People Power Coalition senatorial line-up. The lineup was carefully chosen and the first letter of the candidate's surname (except for Roberto Pagdanganan) ended up with the line VOT FOR D CHAMMP. The line became a hit, and it led to the election of most of the coalition's senatorial candidates including Drilon. He again served as Senate President from 2001 to 2006. And from 2006 to the end of his second term as Senator on 2007, Drilon served as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and worked firmly for the enactment of the new national budget law on 2007.

Senator Drilon at speaking engagement in Zamboanga City.

Drilon was re-elected to the Philippine Senate in 2010 was senator as 15 years (1995-2010). He served as the Assistant Majority Leader and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and led the Senate in enacting the national budget laws on time for 2011, 2012 and 2013. He likewise primarily authored a law that creates an oversight body of all government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) which would check them from incurring financial excesses and as well as ensuring their financial stability and makes them fiscally responsible. On 2012, after Senator Ralph Recto stepped down as the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, Drilon as its Vice-Chairman took over as its new Chairman and worked firmly for the enactment of the Sin Tax Law that would impose higher taxes on the cigarettes and liquors. Drilon proudly called it as "anti-cancer law" for he firmly believes that the law would discourage the people from taking cigarettes so that they will not suffer lung cancer.

During the impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona in early 2012, he acted as one of the Senator-Judges and later voted for his conviction and removal from office and disqualification from holding any elective or appointive government office.

Halfway through the Presidency of Benigno Aquino III, Drilon won the majority of votes after being voted as Senate President, following the resignation of former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile. It was predicted long after the Resignation of Enrile, that Drilon would have the majority. Enrile was subsequently elected as Minority Leader.

Personal life[edit]

Senator Drilon praying during the reopening of the Manila Cathedral

Drilon was married to fellow lawyer and ACCRA senior partner Violeta Calvo with whom he had two children, Eliza and Patrick. During his candidacy for a Senate seat in 1995, Drilon often traveled to the US to be with his wife who was then being treated for lung cancer. Mrs. Drilon died of the disease in September 1995, two months after her husband assumed his Senate seat. Two years after, Drilon proposed to close family friend Mila Serrano-Genuino, who was a widow. They married with former Presidents Aquino and Ramos as wedding sponsors.

Drilon has a nephew named Rock who is married to ABS-CBN Broadcast Journalist Cecilia Victoria Oreña, also known as Ces Drilon.

Drilon is a member of the Rotary Club, Makati Chapter. He was an active member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) where he was a former President of the PasayMakatiMandaluyongSan Juan Chapter. Although he was born in Iloilo, he is a registered voter of Greenhills, San Juan.

He received an honorary degree (Honoris Causa) from Central Philippine University.


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-03-17. Retrieved 2008-04-27. 
  2. ^, SyCipLaw:. "SyCipLaw Home". 
  3. ^

External links[edit]

Senate of the Philippines
Preceded by
Edgardo Angara
Chair of the Philippine Senate
Finance Committee

Succeeded by
Francis Escudero
Political offices
Preceded by
Sedfrey A. Ordoñez
Secretary of Justice
Succeeded by
Silvestre H. Bello III
Preceded by
Eduardo G. Montenegro
Secretary of Justice
Succeeded by
Demetrio G. Demetria
Preceded by
Francisco Tatad
Majority leader of the Senate of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Francisco Tatad
Preceded by
Blas F. Ople
President of the Senate of the Philippines
July 12, 2000–November 13, 2000
Succeeded by
Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr.
Preceded by
Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr.
President of the Senate of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Manuel B. Villar, Jr.
Preceded by
Juan Ponce Enrile
President of the Senate of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Aquilino Pimentel III
Preceded by
Ralph Recto
President pro tempore of the Senate of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Ralph Recto
Preceded by
Ralph Recto
Minority Floor Leader of the Senate of the Philippines
Party political offices
Preceded by
Francis Pangilinan
Chairman of Liberal Party
Succeeded by
Benigno Aquino III