Senator Ernesto Herrera has earned for himself an enviable reputation as a trade union leader, an advocate of law and order, and a legislator in the 8th, 9th and 10th Congresses.
He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Law from the University of Visayas in 1966, and was awarded with a doctorate degree in Humanities, honoris causa. 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. His master’s thesis comprised of a comparative study of the tax systems of five ASEAN countries. In 1998, he obtained his Ph.D. in Fiscal Studies (magna cum laude) at the Lyceum of the Philippines.
Senator Herrera spent most of his professional life in the cause of labor, mainly as general secretary of the Trade Union congress of the Philippines (TUCP).
He 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 Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland; and headed the Worker’s Delegation to the 75th Session of the International Labour Organization where he delivered a major address on human rights. He is the first Asian and the second individual to receive the George Meany International Human Rights Awards in 1985. (The first individual awardee was Lech Walesa of the Solidarity Movement, former President of Poland.) He was likewise conferred the International Award of Honor by the International Narcotics Enforcement Officers Association of New York, U.S.A.
Here at home, Senator Herrera was the workers’ representative in the National Wages Council, the Social Security Commission and the National Manpower and Youth Council. He was Chairman of Crimewatch and the founding chairman of the Citizens’ Drug Watch Foundation, Inc. and president of the Carlos P. Garcia Foundation, Inc. In recognition of his crusade against drugs to protect the youth from its pernicious effects, Senator Herrera received the 1992 Gintong Ama ng Bayan Award, the highest award given by the Gintong Ama/Ina Foundation of the Philippines.
Senator Herrera rose to national prominence as a member of the Agava Fact-Finding Board that investigated the assassination of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.
Senator Herrera was first elected to the Senate in 1987. Throughout his six-year term, he was the chairman of the Committees on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development; Tourism; and Illegal Drugs. He was a member of the Commission on Appointments; the 1990 Congressional Commission on Education that reviewed and assessed the Philippine education system; and the 1992 Congressional Commission on Health.
He was responsible in EDCOM for landmark reforms in vocational education and training that resulted in the establishment of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
In the national elections of 1992, Senator Herrera won his second Senate term, ranking second among the re-electionist senators, and fourth overall. In the 1998 elections, he won by an overwhelming majority over his opponent in the Congressional race.
In the 10th Congress, he chaired the Committees on Finance and Public Services, two of the most powerful committees in the Senate. He is a member of the Executive-Legislative National Water Crisis Commission and continues to serve as chairman of the Commission on Appointments’ Committee on Constitutional Offices.
In the Senate, Senator Herrera’s legislative record was strong on labor, employment, fiscal, education, and law and order policies. He 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.
Senator Herrera was born in Samboan, Cebu, in September 11, 1942. Like Apolinario Mabini, he overcame a physical handicap caused by polio during his childhood, to become one of the country’s outstanding leaders.