WIGBERTO E. TAÑADA
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) chairperson since 2007. At present, chairperson of the Agrarian Justice Foundation Inc., and of the Philippine Working Group on the ASEAN Mechanism for Human Rights; trustee of International Alert, lead convenor of the Fair Trade Alliance of the Philippines; and member of the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood, Integrity and Nationalism Inc. (MABINI).
Former Senator Wigberto Ebarle Tañada remains a key player in Philippine civil society movements. As Senator (1987 – 1995) and as the Congressional Representative of the Fourth District of Quezon Province (1995-2001), he authored and co-authored significant laws strengthening the supremacy of the civilian authority over the military, defining and punishing the crime of plunder; democratizing control and access to fishery and aquatic resources; and supporting the cause of marginalized sectors, among others.
Tañada voted against the Senate ratification of the GATT-WTO Treaty in 1994 because its policies on unbridled free trade liberalization would have an adverse impact on the Philippine economy. On October 24, 2001, Tañada convened the Fair Trade Alliance of the Philippines (FTA), a broad alliance of business and industry leaders, labor and civil society groups which aims to defend the country’s industries and agriculture against unfair trading practices and to come up with a national strategy for increasing the competitiveness of agriculture and industry.
Tañada led the “Magnificent 12” senators in voting against the continued stay of the US military bases in 1991 because they constituted an affront to Philippine sovereignty and independence. In 1999, he called for the rejection of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which could set the stage for the return of the US military forces in the country and nullify the historic Senate decision that ended more than 400 years of foreign military presence in the Philippines. He was also one of those who convened the Gathering for Peace last February 12, 2002, a coalition of personalities and organizations opposing the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the RP-US joint military training exercise (Balikatan 02-1) because it goes beyond the legal parameters of the VFA and the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), and it constitutes a clear violation of the Constitution.
Among the awards and citations he has received are: Degree of Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa from the Northwestern University, Ilocos Norte; The Outstanding Filipino Award for Government and Public Service from the Philippine Jaycees Senate and the Insular Life Assurance Company, Ltd.; Gawad Makatao from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor; Outstanding Senator especially in the Field of Nationalism and for being the people’s conscience by the Philippine Graphics and Pilipino Reporter Magazine; one of 12 Senators chosen as “Men of the Year” by the Philippines Free Press; Gawad Gomburza by the Kapatirang Gomburza; Hall of Fame for Outstanding Economic Nationalist from the National Economic Protectionism Association; Quezon Medalya ng Karangalan from the Quezon Provincial Government.
Born on August 13, 1934, he traces his roots to Gumaca, Quezon, where his father, former Senator Lorenzo M. Tañada, hailed from. His mother, the former Expedita Ebarle, was from Lucena, Quezon. He graduated Bachelor of Laws from the Manuel L. Quezon University and obtained his Master of Laws at Harvard University.