(ABS-CBN News, Based on Research by ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group)
Born on October 10, 1969, Francis Joseph "Chiz" Guevara Escudero spent his formative years under the University of the Philippines system.
Escudero studied in UP, from gradeschool (University of the Philippines Integrated School, 1975-1981) to high school (University of the Philippines Integrated School, 1981-1985) until college (B.A. Political Science, University of the Philippines Diliman, 1985-1989) and post graduate (Bachelor of Laws, University of the Philippines, Diliman, College of Law, 1989-1993).
For his masters in International and Comparative Law, Escudero spent a year in Georgetown University Law Center, Washington D.C. in 1995-1996.
Before diving into politics, Escudero took on various jobs in the academe and in private law practice.
He was a teaching assistant at UP Department of Political Science for one semester before working as a junior political analyst at Batangas Development Planning Project (BDPP) from March to June 1989.
Escudero eventually worked as a junior associate¬ at Bautista Picazo Buyco Tan & Fider Law Office until August 1994. Afterwards, he worked as a legal counsel for Crusade Against Violence and later on as a legal consultant at UNLAD Ship Mgt. & Manning Corp.
In February 1995, he became a partner at Escudero Marasigan Sta. Ana Vallente & Villareal Law Office.
Escudero was also a senior lecturer from June 1996 to March 1998 at the UP College of Law, and a lecturer at Ateneo de Manila University Graduate School in 2000.
ROAD TO POLITICS
Escudero first entered politics in 1998 when he ran for the 1st Congressional district of Sorsogon and won under Lakas NUCD (National Union of Christian Democrats)-UMDP (United Muslim Democrats of the Philippines). He ran again in 2001 and 2007 for the same position, but under the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
In the 11th Congress, Escudero became the Assistant House Majority Floor Leader (July 1998-November 2000). He was then chosen as Second Deputy Majority Floor Leader (November 2000-January 2001) and later on as Assistant Deputy Minority Floor Leader (January 2001-June 2001).
He became the Minority Floor Leader in the 13th Congress.
In 2007, he ran for a senatorial seat, still under NPC, and earned the second highest number of votes next to Loren Legarda.
After winning as Senator in the 2007 elections, Escudero was named chairman of the Senate Committees on Justice and Human Rights and Environment and Natural Resources in the 15th Congress. He also headed the Joint Oversight Committees on Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Air Act.
In October 2009, amid speculations that he will run for president, Escudero suddenly resigned from the Nationalist People’s Coalition. He reasoned that his resignation would allow him some time to decide for himself the position he should run for in 2010. But he did not run for president.
When he ran as senator in 2013, he was an independent candidate but was a guest candidate of the Liberal Party-led “Team PNoy” coalition. He ranked 4th on the senatorial polls behind Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, and Alan Cayetano.
In the 16th Congress, he was assigned as chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance. On July 28, 2015, he resigned as chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance and as co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures citing “delicadeza” as his reason for resigning. Escudero announced that he is seriously considering running for a higher post in the 2016 elections.
Escudero is currently the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. He also heads the Joint Congressional Oversight Committees on the Clean Water Act and the Chain Saw Act.
PRIVATE AND PUBLIC LIFE
Escudero was married to stage actress and singer Christine Elizabeth R. Flores--until their relatively private married life took a surprising turn in 2010.
Their marriage was annuled by the civil court two years after the much-publicized break-up.
In 2012, Escudero admitted dating celebrity Heart Evangelista, who is 16 years younger. In 2015, Escudero and Evangelista had a multi-million dreamy Balesin wedding, despite opposition from the actress' parents.
Escudero has custody of his two children, Joaquin and Cecilia.
Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth
Total Assets: P6,049,082.09
Liabilities: None declared
Net worth: P6,049,082.09
SUPPORT FOR THE IGLESIA NI CRISTO
- On August 2015, Escudero’s support for the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC)’s protest, which caused heavy traffic and inconvenience to commuters, was criticized. Escudero denied that he was pandering to the INC to get its endorsement in the upcoming elections.
SUPPORTING BINAY’S CANDIDACY IN 2010
- In July 2015, Escudero said that he does not regret supporting the candidacy of Vice President Jejomar Binay in 2010, saying he did not yet know about the corruption allegations against Binay at the time.
- Escudero’s lavish wedding with actress Heart Evangelista in Balesin Island on Feb. 15, 2015 raised questions on how Escudero was able to pay for the wedding when he was among the poorest senators in office, with a declared net worth of only P8.243 million in 2013. Critics also raised questions about his sponsors, most of whom were prominent businessmen. One of them, Roberto V. Ongpin of property developer Alphaland, was summoned by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee to explain the alleged anomalous property deal between his company and the Boy Scout of the Philippines (BSP).
‘FAMILY FEUD’ WITH WIFE
- There was also the controversy between Escudero and his wife’s parents, who disapproved of him since his relationship with their daughter began. Escudero and his wife’s parents reportedly reconciled months after the wedding.
ADVOCATING FOR MARCOS’ STATE BURIAL
- In September 2014, Escudero said that former President Ferdinand E. Marcos should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Escudero’s father, Sorsogon 1st District Representative Salvador Escudero, also advocated for the state burial of Marcos.
ALLEGED CAMPAIGN DONATION FROM NAPOLES
- In May 2014, alleged pork barrel scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles claimed that she personally met with Escudero and gave him campaign funds. Escudero denied the accusation but admitted that he indeed met with Napoles.
ANNULMENT WITH FIRST WIFE
- In 2012, Escudero confirmed that he ended his 10-year marriage with Christine Elizabeth Flores. Months before they revealed their annulment, Escudero was linked to TV host Kris Aquino, and was also allegedly dating actress Heart Evangelista.
RESIGNATION FROM NPC
- In October 2009, Escudero left the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) because he believed that a presidential candidate must not belong to any party and a candidate must not be tied to his party. Escudero eyed the presidential post in 2010 but withdrew his candidacy later on.
CRITICISMS AGAINST THE ARROYO ADMINISTRATION
- Escudero was a staunch critic of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration. As House Minority floor leader at the time, he led the efforts in removing the former president from office.
- Among the bills filed by Escudero as representative of the first district of Sorsogon that were eventually enacted into law were: RA 9470 which established the National Archives of the Philippines; RA 8806 which created the city of Sorsogon in the province of Sorsogon; RA 8980 which promulgated a Comprehensive Policy and a National System for Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD); and RA 9155, which instituted a framework of governance for basic education and renaming the Department of Education, Culture and Sports as the Department of Education.
- As senator, among the bills filed by Escudero that were eventually enacted into law were: RA 9503, which further expands the Organizational Structure of the Court of Tax Appeals (CTA); RA 10158, which decriminalized vagrancy; RA 10353, which criminalized the practice of enforced and involuntary disappearances; RA 9504, which grants minimum wage earners increased tax exemption; RA 10071 which aims to strengthen and rationalize the National Prosecution Service; RA 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act; RA 9645, which declared every July 27 of the year as a Special National Working Holiday in recognition of the Iglesia ni Cristo’s founding anniversary; RA 10368 or the Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act; and RA 10026, which grants income tax exemption to local water districts.
- In the 2013 elections, Escudero advocated justice and human rights, education, and transparency and accountability among others. In his 2014 SALN, Escudero attached a waiver that would allow the Ombudsman to look into his bank accounts.