“No statesman of this generation has authored and implemented more far-ranging reforms than Senator Edgardo J. Angara,” says the business magazine BizNews Asia. “His reforms for education, agriculture, healthcare, anti-graft, senior citizens, and the economy have made life significantly much better for many Filipinos and laid the foundation for future growth for the country.”
Angara, known as “Mr. Education”, initiated the threefold reform of the country’s educational system, which resulted in the creation of the Commission on Higher Education and Technical Education and Skill Development Authority, as well as the institutionalization of the Free High School Act and the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE).
As the present Chair of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, he was behind the passage of the Kindergarten Education Act and Early Years Act.
As president of University of the Philippines from 1981-1987, he was described as a “resolute technocrat” and a “tough-minded leader”.
“Angara’s administration’s solutions to the university’s problems would later go on the record as unprecedented and unsurpassed,” states an official chronicle of his presidency entitled At the Helm of UP. He is credited for the singular achievement of transforming UP into a system of autonomous universities.
Under his leadership, a common General Education program for all campuses was introduced, a seven-year honors medical curriculum installed, fiscal autonomy obtained, and the Philippine Rice Research Institute established.
Angara is also the father of healthcare for authoring the National Health Insurance Act (PhilHealth) and the Senior Citizens Act.
He modernized the agricultural sector by authoring the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) and implementing it when he served as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture.
Angara also established the new National Museum, National Commission on Culture and the Arts, Natatanging Manlilikha Award and National Cultural Heritage Law.
National Artist F. Sionil Jose said Angara “showed himself to be the national leader most actively engaged and committed to our cultural uplifting.”
His initiatives on good governance include the Procurement Reform Act and the GOCC Governance Act. He is promoting good governance in an international scale through the Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) as its Vice Chair and in the Southeast Asia Parliamentarians Against Corruption (SEAPAC) as its Charter President.
President Corazon C. Aquino once said, “Ed Angara is the face of decent Philippine politics abroad.”
Angara’s background in corporate law is equally rich and storied. In 1972, he founded what would become one of the country's top law firms today, the ACCRA Law Offices. He subsequently served in the boards of many leading companies, including San Miguel, Malayan Insurance, RCBC, Insular Life and IBM.
With such remarkable knowledge of business and financial markets, he pushed for the passage of the Credit Information System Act, Personal Equity And Retirement Account (PERA) Act, Real Estate Investment Trust Act (REIT), the Financial Rehabilitation and Insolvency Act (FRIA), as well as the reform of the Philippine Deposit Insurance Corporation Charter and Pag-Ibig Fund Charter.
Today he is championing the cause of Science & Technology, through the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), which he chairs. The triumvirate of ICT bills he sponsored—Data Privacy, Cybercrime Prevention and creation of a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT)—were recently passed and will serve as the foundation of the country’s knowledge and technology-based economy.
The former Senator Blas F. Ople called Angara a “national living treasure”.
Angara was awarded Spain’s Premio Casa Asia in 2010, making him the first Southeast Asian to win the foreign policy prize. He is the official representative of the Unión Latina to the Philippines, an organization consisting of 37 member-nations of the neo-latin languages.
Angara has also been conferred with the Commandeur dans l'ordre des Palmes medal, a citation given by the French Republic to individuals engaged in promoting excellence in higher education. He was also the first Lee Kuan Yew Fellow in the Philippines.
He was recently inducted as a Corresponding Academic Member of the prestigious Real Academia Hispano Americana De Ciencias, Artes Y Letras (Royal Hispano-American Academy of Science, Arts and Letters) in Cadiz, Spain, making him the first Asian and first non-Spanish speaker to be elected into the global network of scholars.
He was named one of the People of the Year 2011-2012 by People Asia magazine.
Angara’s prolific and consistent performance springs from a rich background as an educator, lawyer, banker, farmer, patron of the arts. He has been elected to four consecutive terms, making him the longest serving senator in the post-EDSA Senate.
As Nick Joaquin, the Grand Old Man of Philippine Literature, wrote, "If clothes make the man, laws make the solon, for his product describes the lawmaker. On that rule it can be assumed of Senator Edgardo J. Angara that he has range and relevance.”