Press Release
November 4, 2015

Speech of Senate President Franklin M. Drilon
Necrological rites for Senator Ernesto Herrera
November 4, 2015
Senate of the Philippines


My esteemed colleagues, members of the Herrera family, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Today, with profound grief, this august chamber joins the whole nation in mourning the passing of former Senator Ernesto "Boy" Herrera -- one of the revered figures of the labor sector, a champion of the working class, an esteemed colleague and a friend.

In his lifetime, Boy Herrera stood above the crowd because of his outstanding accomplishments as a trade union leader, as a member of the Agrava Fact-Finding Board that investigated the assassination of former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, as a senator and as a congressman.

I can claim in this room that I am the one of those who can proudly claim to have had the longest interaction with Senator Herrera. I first met Boy in the mid-70's - that's about 40 years ago - when I was a practicing lawyer acting as a management council for corporations in management disputes. I knew Boy then, I think he was then the Secretary General of the Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP).

In many labor disputes, we found ourselves sitting across the bargaining table. I have nothing but admiration for this principled man. He defended the rights of the working class, not for his personal gain - and I underscore that, not for his personal gain - but for the improvement of the workers' general well-being. He was cut above the rest, a legend in his own right.

I vouch for Boy's deep commitment to protect and promote the rights and welfare of millions of our workers. He was a giant of Philippine labor.

His work, as a trade union leader and as a legislator, reflected his boundless love for our country and our people.

I was the Secretary of Labor when he was elected senator of the Republic in the 1987 and during my stint, I had so many interactions with him, this time not as a labor leader, but as an esteemed member of this chamber, and I as a member of the Cabinet. We worked on so many issues that I would have no more time to recall all of them here.

We both recognized the importance of industrial peace at a period when there was a widening democratic space as a consequence of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. In the words of Sen. Boy Herrera, there was a need to balance the rights of labor and the rights of management, to foster a stable and conducive business climate while improving productivity if the Philippine economy had to recover from its ruin in the early 1980s.

Boy was a veritable defender of social justice and human rights. The decisions he made and the path he took when it came to controversial and highly-debated issues were all anchored on his deep sense of nationalism.

I only have superlatives to describe this honorable man from the Visayas who dedicated his life to a greater cause. He was the 20th century Apolinario Mabini, who courageously overcame polio to become one of the country's outstanding public servants.

Boy Herrera was a highly-esteemed and much-admired member of the post-EDSA Senate. I joined him in this chamber when I was elected Senator in 1995. I must say that I have been deeply impressed by his character. He never compromised his ideals and principles even if it would have been the most convenient thing to do.

I do recall when I first met Boy, he had a favorite assistant, and I would often hear him say, "Teta." You know, it took me a little while to realize that "Teta" was "Tita" Misolas who is here with us today. Talagang si Boy, matigas ang dila, "Teta.."

Because I remember having weekly lunches with Boy in his old office in Marbella 2,because we would tape our radio show in DZRH - we had a radio show together- and we would tape I think on Fridays in his office, and "Teta" or Tita would always serve us lunch. Those were the days when I had really nothing but admiration for a friend. We were together in the "conscience bloc" at the time, noong kami po ay lumaban noon at kami ay naiwan, ako po ay nakasama sa minority. We stood by Ed Angara as Senate President and we ended up in the minority. Boy stood his ground on every issue not on any personal motive, but because he believed that it was the right thing to do.

As a person, Boy Herrera was a decent man with a noble heart and a gentle soul. His dedication to public service is a sterling example to the younger generation of politicians and public servants. His integrity and idealism set him apart and put him in the league of truly honorable men.

A principled and distinguished public servant, Senator Ernesto "Boy" Herrera will continue to inspire many generations of labor leaders and lawmakers.

It is my distinct honor and privilege to have worked with him in a number of labor issues in this august chamber. With his passing, the country's working class has lost a champion.

Farewell, Boy... Daghang salamat sa tanan nga gibuhat nimo para sa atong nasud!

Maraming salamat.

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