The country has lost one of its foremost and respected labor leaders and lawmakers on Thursday–former senator Ernesto Herrera.
Herrera died of cardiac arrest at the Makati Medical Center. He was 73.
Aside from serving as lawmaker in four Congresses, he spent most of his professional life in the cause of labor mainly as general secretary of the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.
As a senator, Herrera focused on legislation about labor, employment, education and law and order policies.
According to his Senate profile, Herrera “showed a deep commitment to the cause of the working man, to the preservation of law and order and to consistency and moderation in public policy. He has 20 laws to his name, one of the highest records in the 8th and 9th Congresses.”
He was born in Samboan, Cebu, on September 11, 1942 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree inlLaw from the University of Visayas in 1966.
He graduated summa cum laude in 1995 with a master’s degree in Public Administration, major in Public Finance, at the Lyceum of the Philippines.
Like Apolinario Mabini, he overcame a physical handicap caused by polio during his childhood to become one of the country’s outstanding leaders.
Herrera was the only Filipino member of the executive board of the International Federation of Free Trade and Union in Brussels, Belgium, from 1988 to 1992; a consultant on worker’s education of the International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland; and head of a workers’ delegation to the 75th session of the International Labor Organization where he delivered a major address on human rights.
He rose to national prominence as a member of the Agrava Fact-Finding Board that investigated the August 21, 1983 assassination of former senator Benigno Aquino Jr.
In interview with ABS-CBN News last August, Herrera said the commission found no sufficient evidence that would directly link former President Ferdinand Marcos and former First Lady Imelda Marcos and businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco Jr. to the murder of Aquino.
He is also a columnist of The Manila Times and his last piece was published on October 26, 2015 with the title “Workers no better off.”
In his column, he discussed the poor state of Filipino workers despite claims of the Aquino administration about the remarkable improvement of the business environment in the country.
“The President and his minions may be happy with their accomplishments but most workers would not. Why should they? They are no better off,” Herrera said in his column.