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Franklin Drilon

Franklin Magtunao Drilon is a Filipino politician. He is also the Chairman of the Liberal Party. He is currently Senior Counsel of the ACCRA Law Offices.

Drilon was born on November 28, 1945 in Iloilo City, Iloilo and is the eldest son of Cesar Drilon, Sr. and Primitiva Drilon. 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 where he initially took up Bachelor in Arts in 1965. At U.P., he was the associate editor to the 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 to the Sycip, Salazar, Luna, Manalo & Feliciano Law Offices (now SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan). He moved to the Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRALAW) in 1974, where he currently serves as Senior Counsel. He was elevated to partner in 1975, co-managing partner in 1981 and managing partner in 1986. He 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).

In 1992, most of the Aquino cabinet were drafted for the Senate candidate line-up of the newly created party Lakas Tao. But Drilon opted to help Mrs. Aquino finish her term. He was again given the opportunity to run as a Senatorial candidate of the Lakas-Laban 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 to the presidency. He was selected as Senate Majority Floor Leader the same year. In 1999, he was among who voted in favor on 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.

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.

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 Arroyo’s father, Diosdado Macapagal served as chairman in the 60’s, invited Drilon to be its member. Days after, Drilon was elected chairman of the political party. Before the 2004 elections, Drilon invited Senator Rodolfo Biazon as its member. Biazon bolted Raul Roco’s Aksyon Demokratiko {AD} just days after he joined convention as its 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 the presidency. That relationship ended in July 8 when Drilon together with Biazon and some prominent members of the Liberal Party decided to withdraw support from 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 will be the first double-tracked railway in the country, and will eventually extend to Clark in Pampanga and, say the architects, as far north as San Fernando, La Union.

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 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 Pasay-Makati-Mandaluyong-San Juan Chapter. Although he was born in Iloilo, he is a registered voter of Greenhills, San Juan.

Other Information

  • Born :  November 28, 1945
  • Birth place : Iloilo City, Iloilo
  • Political Party : Liberal Party (2003–present); Independent (2000–2003); LAMMP (1998–2000); Lakas-NUCD (1995–1998); UNIDO (1987-1995)
  • Education : Bachelor of Laws – College of Law
  • Residence : San Juan City
  • Spouse : Violeta Calvo (Deceased), Mila Serrano-Genuino
  • Religion : Roman Catholic


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