Top Ten Most Influential Leaders Of the Philippines
Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III
A man of destiny and political reformer who originally didn’t have any ambitions to become president, the 51-year-old P-Noy decisively won the 2010 election with 15.2 million votes after the death of his mother, ex-President Cory C. Aquino, and due to his commitment to push anti-corruption reforms. The only son of democracy icons Senator Ninoy Aquino and Cory Aquino, he previously served as a senator and Tarlac congressman. One of his early jobs after college was at the non-profit Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). An eloquent public speaker and idealistic in his dream of a Philippine society with less poverty and less political corruption, P-Noy is a history buff, Ateneo economics graduate, a practical shooting expert, and an audiophile who likes folk, jazz, and bossa nova music.
Jejomar “Jojo” Binay
The populist former mayor of Makati City and former chairman of the Metro Manila Development authority (MMDA) pulled off the biggest political upset victory in modern Philippine electoral history, when he came from far behind in the surveys and won the vice-presidential race in 2010. Binay overcame childhood poverty, graduated with political science and law degrees from the University of the Philippines (UP), worked as college lecturer in various schools and was a courageous human rights lawyer who was jailed for his activism. He was appointed mayor of Makati by the late President Cory C. Aquino after the 1986 EDSA uprising, and is now leader of the UNO and PDP-Laban parties. He also heads the government’s mass housing program, and is presidential adviser on Overseas Filipino affairs. One of his numerous civic endeavors is being national president of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines. His son Jejomar Erwin “Jun-jun” Binay Jr. succeeded him as mayor of Makati City.
Juan “Manong Johnny” Ponce Enrile
The brilliant 87-year-old Senate President Enrile is a tough survivor of childhood poverty in Cagayan province and of the vicissitudes of Philippine politics. Graduating cum laude with an associate of arts degree from the Ateneo, cum laude with a law degree from the University of the Philippines and a law degree from Harvard, the former defense minister of the Marcos era became a key player in the 1986 EDSA uprising that catapulted Cory Aquino to the presidency after a coup d’etat against President Ferdinand Marcos failed.
Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte
Jr. — Speaker Belmonte is an outstanding leader of the House of Representatives with 286 legislators, a former journalist and working student in his youth, and a lawyer by training. In 1986, then-President Cory C. Aquino appointed him head of several financially ailing government corporations, which he successfully turned around and made profitable. He served as president of GSIS, Manila Hotel, Philippine Airlines, and head of other institutions. As mayor of Quezon City, he upheld prudent fiscal management, reforms, improved the business environment, modernized infrastructures, and pushed socio-economic development. His daughter Joy is now vice mayor of Quezon City.
Son of the late Atty. Juan M. Corona (who wept for the first time in front of his son when the latter graduated with a law degree) and UST accounting summa cum laude graduate Eugenia Coronado Corona, Chief Justice Renato C. Corona studied college and law at the Ateneo de Manila University and earned his law degree from Harvard Law School. He earned his doctorate in civil law from the University of Santo Tomas with summa cum laude honors. His eldest brother, Atty. Arturo Corona, was Department of Transportation & Communications (DOTC) Secretary of President Cory C. Aquino. SGV Group founder Washington SyCip said to him after the chief justice appointment of Corona — who was a former SGV executive — “You make us very proud, you make the entire organization very proud.” Chief Justice Corona says he hopes to strengthen the Philippine judiciary and improve the judicial system.
Paquito “Jojo” Ochoa, Jr.
A graduate of economics at University of Santo Tomas and law at the Ateneo de Manila University, Executive Secretary Ochoa occupies the influential post known as “Little President” and has been a long-time legal counsel of P-Noy. The 50-year-old lawyer is reputedly also leader of the so-called Samar faction in the P-Noy administration. His late father Paquito Ochoa, Sr. was mayor of Pulilan, Bulacan and a close friend of P-Noy’s dad Senator Ninoy Aquino. A former vice president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and former city administrator of Quezon City, Ochoa is also law firm partner — now on leave — of Senator Bongbong Marcos’s wife Louise “Liza” Araneta Marcos.
Manuel “Mar” Roxas III
Apart from now being cabinet secretary in charge of the Department of Transportation and Communications, the Wharton-educated former Wall Street investment banker Mar is president of the ruling Liberal Party. He is also reportedly leader of the Balay faction in the P-Noy administration. His wife, award-winning ABS-CBN 2 broadcaster Korina Sanchez, is also politically astute. A former Lee Kuan Yew fellow awarded by the Singapore government and a legislator with numerous progressive socio-economic bills, Mar said that he only entered politics after the death of his idealistic elder brother Congressman Gerardo “Dinggoy” Roxas, Jr. at a young age. Mar came back to spend his brother’s last three months by his side.
Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada
Former president, vice-president, senator, San Juan mayor and six-time Famas Best Actor awardee Erap is still a formidable force in Philippine politics and genuinely loved by the masses. He landed a surprising second place to P-Noy and Senator Manny Villar in the 2010 presidential race despite lack of resources and showbiz celebrity endorsers. His sons Jinggoy and JV are respectively senator and congressman, while his second wife Guia Gomez is now mayor of San Juan City.
Florencio “Butch” Abad
One of the most trusted officials and also election campaign manager of P-Noy, Liberal Party stalwart and Budget & Management Secretary Butch Abad studied business management and earned a law degree from the Ateneo de Manila University and his master’s in public administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. His daughter Julia Andrea is head of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) and his son Luis Andres is chief of staff of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima. Secretary Abad’s late sister was the famed artist Pacita Abad.
Cesar A. V. Purisima
Hardworking Finance Secretary Purisma is a former chairman of SGV Group and a leader of the Hyatt 10, along with Secretary Butch Abad, who resigned from the cabinet of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo during the “Hello Garci” scandal. He was former trade and industry secretary. Purisima earned his BS Commerce degree, majoring in accounting and management of financial institutions, from De la Salle University (1979) and his MBA from J. L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University. He was a topnotcher in the 1979 Certified Public Accountant Board Examination.