Escudero, Francis Joseph Guevara
Chiz Escudero first came to the attention of the Filipinos when as one of the youngest members of Congress, he stood out as a charismatic, eloquent speaker with a remarkable facility with the Filipino language. He has risen to prominence when he led an impeachment drive against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. His meteoric ascend to politics saw him a senate seat in 2007.
Chiz was born Francis Joseph Escudero on October 10, 1969. He is the second of the three children of the late Agriculture Minister and First District Representative of Sorsogon Salvador Escudero and now congressman Evelina Guevara Escudero. He was educated in the public school system of the University of the Philippines from kindergarten all the way to law school, where he was a member of the debate team. After passing the Philippine Bar in 1994, Chiz went into practice while at the same time took on a teaching position as a law professor at the UP College of Law. In 1996, he obtained a Masters degree in International and Comparative Law at Georgetown Law Center in Washington, D.C.
In 1998 he won his first election as the Representative of the First District of Sorsogon at the age of 28. He was re-elected two more times during which he served as Assistant Majority Floor Leader and House Minority Floor Leader. In 2007, Chiz took his oath at the Senate, garnering the second highest number of votes. Once in Senate, he made good of his mandate engaging in endeavors that fulfill his campaign promise to be the “voice of the people” in the Upper Chamber. One of his first efforts was to gain tax exemption and additional exemptions for the low-earners. This law is now what is known as RA 9504 (Tax Exemption for Minimum Wage Earners and Increased Tax Exemptions). He also worked to increase the maximum insurance coverage to P500,000 for bank deposits (RA 9576). At the helm of the Justice and Human Rights Committee, he is responsible for the passage of the anti-vagrancy law (RA 10158), RA 10353 (Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act) and RA 9745 (Anti-Torture Act). In the last 15th Congress, Chiz has a zero backlog in his two committees, Justice and Human Rights and Environment and Natural Resources, having heard and acted upon all the bills filed before both. He was able to pass creation of additional 281 courts, an undertaking meant for justice to be served effectively and efficiently especially to those who are in the countryside.
Chiz was named one of the country’s Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) for youth leadership in 2005. In 2007, he was the only Filipino to be named Asia News Network’s Asia’s Idols. He was honored as one of the world’s Young Global Leaders in 2008 by the World Economic Forum. And in 2012, he received the Rotary Golden Wheel Award in recognition of his contributions in political governance and the legislative field.
With the fresh mandate given to him in the 16th Congress, Chiz continues to push for extensive legislation on good governance, education, agriculture, electoral reforms and justice and human rights.
Escudero’s initiation into the political arena and into the art of addressing big crowds began in his teenage years in the 1980s, when he helped organize the local campaigns of his father. Escudero explained: “In 1984, I was part of the postering brigade in my dad’s campaign for assemblyman. In 1987, I handled the youth; in 1992, I handled the headquarters and arranged logistics. In 1995, I handled last minute operations, and in 1998, I was finally the candidate!”
He first indicated his inclination towards public service at the age of 22 when he expressed interest to run for public office as municipal councilor of Sorsogon City . At age 25, he again indicated an intent to run for the office of the mayor of Sorsogon City. But for both occasions, the family’s opinion, especially that of his father’s, that he finish his law studies first before beginning a political career, prevailed. In response to the wishes of his family, he finished his Law studies first before entering politics.
House of Representatives
As a fourth-generation Escudero to serve in public office, he began his political career at age 28 in 1998 as the representative of the 1st District Sorsogon for the 11th Congress of the Philippines. He was elected Assistant Majority Floor Leader of the 11th Congress from June 1998 to November 2000 and became Second Deputy Majority Floor Leader of the 11th Congress in November 2000 to January 2001. He was Assistant Deputy Majority of the 11th Congress from January to June 2001.
Escudero was the campaign spokesperson for the defeated Philippine presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr.
Escudero was one of the pro-impeachment congressmen who were the prime movers for the initiation of impeachment proceedings for the former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. In 2005, he voted against the dropping of impeachment complaints against the president. His explanation summarizes his stand: “It is the truth that she has lost. But the search for the truth does not end today. The president and her allies will always be haunted by questions.”
Escudero maintained the same vote against dismissing the impeachment complaints against Arroyo in 2006, retaining his original vote the previous year.
As for his term in congress which ends in 2007, he said: “Three years is too short for a good official, too long for a bad one. Four is ideal. I feel tired—I used to have only five white hairs!—but I still want to find out, at age 35, if this will still be my career path or whether I should move to the private sector. I wouldn’t want to reach 50 still hoping to be something in government which I can never be.”
Today, he heads the Senate Committees on Justice and Human Rights, Joint Oversight Committees on Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Clean Air Act, and Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.
Escudero was later reelected during the 2013 Philippine Senate elections.