Noli L. De Castro
Vice President Noli de Castro embodies the “Great Filipino Dream,” proving that with determination, hard work, and faith in God, one can work his way towards success. He persevered to become a distinguished broadcaster, senator, and now as the second highest official of the land.
Vice President De Castro, better known as “Kabayan” (Compatriot), served with unwavering integrity and dedication to the poor – qualities that earned him the respect of his peers and endeared him to the Filipino people.
Kabayan takes pride in his humble beginnings. He was born in Pola, Oriental Mindoro on July 6, 1949, and at the age of ten, experienced great loss with the passing of his father. At this tender age, he already demonstrated a sense of responsibility to ease his mother’s burden of raising him and his five siblings. While serving as an altar boy in the local parish church, he earned a living by raising pigs. "I diligently took the rounds in our barrio, gathering pig's fodder from our neighbors for my pet pig, which I would raise, in order to be sold later,"Kabayan fondly reminisced.
While living in a boarding house in the University Belt, he finished his degree in Bachelor of Commerce, major in Banking and Finance from the University of the East in 1971. He then started his career in 1976 as a field reporter for Mr. Johnny de Leon, a popular radio announcer of station DWWW. He became a radio announcer for the same station from 1982 to 1986. After the 1986 Edsa Revolution, ABS-CBN resumed operations. As host of the morning show “Good Morning, Philippines,” the Filipino public found him to be a credible television personality. He hosted “Overseas Unlimited” on OFWs, and the longest running magazine program, “Magandang Gabi, Bayan.” Under his leadership, this investigative reporting show enjoyed unparalleled top ratings and dominated all other news and current affairs shows. In 1987, he started as Executive Anchor of “TV Patrol,” a primetime news program that he steered to unprecedented success as its overall head of production.
His effectiveness in television and radio broadcasting, as well as his efficiency in production management, did not go unnoticed. He rose to become Vice President of ABS-CBN DZMM, which achieved top ratings under his leadership. “Kabayan” (or Compatriot) has become a household name, creating an effective link between the poor Filipinos and the government because of his dedicated responsibility and sensitivity to the needs of others, especially the poor. It was his brand of genuine public service that won the hearts of his fellowmen – bringing home needy Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), assisting indigent patients, helping locate missing persons and reuniting them with their families. He vigorously addressed the incidents of corruption in government. He protected the innocent public from scams and anomalies by exposing crime syndicates and malefactors. He advocated social concerns objectively and without fear. These acts did not escape the eyes of various media groups, government agencies and other organizations such as the Dangerous Drugs Board, Crusade Against Violence, the Philippine National Police, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, and various Rotary Clubs. He was a recipient of many awards, including the prestigious Catholic Mass Media Award and the KBP Golden Dove Awards.
After 25 years as a broadcaster, VP De Castro ran as an independent candidate for the Philippine Senate in 2001 without traditional political machinery. He emerged No.1 with 16.1 million votes to his credit, holding the record in terms of margin of votes at 4.5 million.
In his three (3) years at the Senate, VP De Castro authored 252 bills and resolutions, 140 of which he principally authored. He authored the following significant laws: Alternative Dispute Resolution, Senior Citizens Act, Balikbayan Law, Quarantine Act and Newborn Screening Test Act.
Among the most significant legislations he authored and principally sponsored is the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2002 or RA 9257, which honors senior citizens for their special role in society and to continuously make them productive members of the community. Said law expanded the benefits and advantages of senior citizens without qualifying whether or not they earn less than P60, 000, which was a prerequisite under the old law. Further, said law ensured for our Senior Citizens the following: availment of employment rights and training programs for those who have reached the compulsory retirement age under existing laws but are still willing and able to continue with their employment; unconstrained access to formal and non-formal education; establishment of a National Health Program for Senior Citizens; setting up of residential care or group home for the aged in every province; recognition of Civil and Political Rights of the Senior Citizens and protection against violation of the same; granting of additional benefits and privileges in the form of discounts, tax exemptions, free medical and dental services; and protection against discrimination.
Realizing the importance of speedy resolution of disputes before contesting parties go to court, VP de Castro filed the Alternative Dispute Resolution (RA 9285) in 2000. RA 9285 sought to relieve the judicial courts of numerous disputes, thus unclogging our court dockets. De Castro had in mind the poor section of our society – those that cannot afford a long and costly trial and thus are usually desperate in their quest for justice.
“Kadalasan, ang mga mayayaman lamang ang nakakatamo ng katarungan dahil sila lang ang may kakayahang tustusan ang mahaba at magastos na paglilitis ng kaso. Mabuting matulungan ang mahihirap bago umabot sa korte ang kaso,” he explained.
He also authored the Balikbayan Law in 2002 to grant our modern day heroes an additional tax-exempt shopping privilege on purchases of livelihood tools so they can invest their earnings in small and medium scale businesses. The law also provides skills training for the balikbayan and his or her family members to enable them to become economically self-reliant upon their return.
Deeply concerned with the importance of health, he also crafted the Newborn Screening Test Act of 2001 and the Quarantine Act. VP De Castro authored the Newborn Screening Test Act to test infants for five potentially devastating and fatal metabolic disorders, namely, congenital hypothyroidism (CH), congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), galactosemia (GAL), phenylketonuria (PKU) and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD). This is because any infant could look normal and healthy at first glance; however, detailed screening is necessary to detect early symptoms of the disorders that could result to retardation, in the extreme case death. This law likewise integrates newborn screening into the government’s existing health care delivery system to improve social justice and health awareness, without the people having to pay a cent for such test. On another note, the Quarantine Act seeks to build a strong defense against the killer pneumonia and other similar contagious diseases. He proposed the establishment of Quarantine system and broadening of the authority of quarantine officers while safeguarding the constitutional rights of the person detained.
In May 2004, De Castro was drafted into the ticket of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Running as Vice President sans the traditional political party or political machinery, he won with 15.1 million votes with his established record of public service and integrity, non-traditional political ways and charisma.
Today he shows effective leadership as Housing Czar and Chairman of the Housing and Urban Development Council (HUDCC). As HUDCC Chairman, he is also ex-officio Chairman of the following key shelter agencies: National Housing Authority (NHA), Home Development and Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund, National Home Mortgage and Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB). He is also the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors (Ex-officio), Home Guaranty Corporation (HGC). He is likewise the Vice Chairman of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers. Given the Vice President's consistent track record as an advocate of OFWs' protection and welfare, he continues to elevate the welfare of the OFWs and their families to a higher level by providing legal assistance, scholarships, and repatriation.
VP De Castro was conferred twice the degree of Doctor of Humanities Honoris Causa: by the Central Luzon State University on April 14, 2004 and the University of the East on November 29, 2006. He was also recently conferred the Doctor of Public Administration by the Ramon Magsaysay Technological University on April 12, 2007 and by the Polytechnic University of the Philippines on May 4, 2007.
Despite his remarkable transition from being a rugged barrio boy to a very popular political figure, Kabayan manages to keep his feet on the ground. He attributes his success to the working of divine providence no less. The Vice President is a devotee of Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno. Every year, he joins the thousands of devotees that flock to Quiapo to venerate the Black Nazarene on its Feast Day.
It gives him personal satisfaction knowing that he is doing something to achieve his long-cherished dream of a progressive Philippines:
“Pangarap ko ang isang magandang araw sa bawat pamilyang Pilipino na puno ng pag-asa para sa kabataang Pilipino, …isang mapagpalang buhay para sa kanilang magigiting na mga magulang, …isang produktibong maghapon sa bawat manggagawang Pilipino sa bukid man o sa lungsod, … at isang mapayapang gabi para sa lahat, lalo na sa mga kapatid nating kasalukuyang nakikipaglaban sa kahirapan.”
“Habang ang inyong lingkod ay nabubuhay, makakaasa ang ating mga kababayan na patuloy akong magtratrabaho para maiangat ang antas ng pamumuhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he assures his fellowmen.
VP De Castro is happily married to Arlene Sinsuat of Maguindanao. They are blessed with three (3) children: Manueli, Katherine and Shamier, and three (3) grandchildren.