From his time as a student activist to being a senator of the Republic of the Philippines and an eventual cabinet member in the Aquino administration, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan has had no qualms about being independent-minded, proving time and again that progressive ideas and principles have a place in Philippine politics.
His career in public service began over 20 years ago, when the young Kiko began his fight against human rights violations, corruption, and other social ills as Chairman of the UP Diliman Student Council. Eventually becoming a human rights lawyer, he later on became the youngest-ever Councilor of the 4th district of Quezon City and, in 1998, graduated with a Master of Public Administration as an Edward S. Mason Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University.
In 2001, Kiko ran for the Senate with the battle cry, “Kumilos kasama si Kiko,” believing that only when citizens actively participate in governance together with committed leaders can genuine change be effected. The programs he instituted in the years that followed proved the power of public-private collaboration and true citizen empowerment. In 2007, Kiko became the first incumbent to run as an independent and win, even landing in the Top 5 when others branded his move as “political suicide.”
Kiko was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and the Senate Committee on Social Justice and Rural Development. He was instrumental in convening AF2025 (Agriculture and Fisheries 2025), a summit of agriculture and fisheries stakeholders that paved the way for increasing the agriculture budget by 52% in 2012. Kiko’s active partnership with agriculture and fisheries stakeholders also paved the way for Sagip Saka, an advocacy that aims to improve the incomes and lives of farmers by modernizing agriculture and ensuring the sustainability of agriculture and fisheries.