Wigberto “Ka Bobby” Tañada is a noted human rights and civil liberties advocate; he is also known for his involvement in various peace processes initiated by government. As senator from 1987 to 1995 and as the Congressional Representative of the 4th District of Quezon Province from 1995 to 2001, he authored and co-authored bills that strengthened the Commission on Human Rights, helped democratize control of and access to fishery and aquatic resources, and supported the cause of marginalized sectors.

People will always remember Ka Bobby as a staunch nationalist; he led the “Magnificent 12” senators in voting against the continued stay of the US military bases in 1991. He also voted against the Senate ratification of the GATT-WHO Treaty in 1994, and called for the rejection of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) in 1990.

Tañada worked closely with ordinary people. As Congressman, he spent time holding meetings with barangay captains, school teachers and health workers in obscure and remote rural villages. Before he became senator, he became a member of MABINI, a cause-oriented lawyers’ group, and actively defended students, farmers and workers charged with rebellion and subversion under the Marcos regime. He went to sites of mass burials and witnessed exhumations of deceased mass leaders and farmers suspected by the military of being supporters or members of the CPP-NPA-NDF. When he became senator, Tañada rightly chaired the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights.

The former senator and House Representative studied at the Ateneo de Manila University, Manuel L. Quezon University and Harvard Law School. He was President of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement in 1999 and Chairman of the Philippine Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism also in the same year. He was Commissioner of the Bureau of Customs from 1986 to 1987, and has been a Partner at Tañada, Vivo & Tan Law Offices since 1970.

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