A consistent voice against corruption and abuse, Teddy is best known for upholding the rights of the poor and marginalized sectors as a three-term congressman of Bayan Muna from 2004-2013.
Brought up in a devout Catholic family, Teddy had his political awakening as a high school student at La Salle Green Hills in the mid-80s, where he became an aspirant to the La Salle Brothers, a volunteer for the National Movement for Free Elections, and a participant in the 1986 EDSA People Power uprising. The experience changed him so that from then on, his life has been characterized by an unwavering pursuit of social justice and the people’s welfare.
Inspired by the EDSA spirit, Teddy took the path of social activism and reform. He turned down a scholarship in De La Salle University to study in UP Los Baños, where he became an outstanding student leader. He was twice editor-in-chief of the student paper and was elected national president of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, an alliance of over 700 student publications, even as he consistently made it to the honor roll. He graduated with a degree in AB Sociology in 1993.
After college, Teddy gave up his ambition to be a lawyer to work full time in the labor movement. He became involved in various social causes as secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan prior to being elected to Congress in 2004. He was also a columnist for Business World for nine years and had a brief stint in TV as a reporter for ABS-CBN’s “Hoy Gising” and “The Correspondents”.
In recognition of his work as a social reformist, Teddy was accorded UPLB’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Extension in 2002. He was appointed commissioner of the EDSA People Power Commission in 2001-2002 and sat as a member of the District Justice and Peace Commission of the De La Salle Schools from 2005-2006. He is an honorary member of the Rotary Club of Banilad Metro Cebu.
After 15 years in the parliament of the streets, Teddy entered the House of Representatives, where he fought for the betterment of the common tao. He was awarded one of the 10 Outstanding Congressmen for 2012 by the Publishers Association of the Philippines as well as given a Most Outstanding Congressman Award by Congress Magazine in 2008.
He was the principal author of four laws that benefited the poor and marginalized sectors, namely: the Public Attorneys Act of 2007 (R.A. 9406) which strengthened the Public Attorneys Office and expanded its free legal services to poor litigants; the Tax Relief Act of 2009 (R.A. 9504) which exempted minimum wage earners from witholding taxes; the Rent Control Act of 2009 (R.A. 9653) which put a cap on rent for low-income earners; and the Anti-Torture Act of 2009 (R.A. 9745) which penalized torture. Aside from this, he authored a total of 178 authored and 376 co-authored measures, making him the 4th most prolific congressman in the 15th Congress.
In Congress he advocated the lowering of prices of electricity, oil and water as well as regulation in the price of education, healthcare, mobile communications, toll fees and other basic utilities and services. He filed bills on the removal of VAT on power, oil and toll fees as well as the regulation of oil prices, mobile phone services, tuition fees and interest rates. He consistently opposed the budget cuts in state colleges and universities as well as the privatization of public hospitals and water districts.
In his last term, Teddy chaired the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development, where he championed the welfare of micro, small and medium enterprises and spearheaded the Buy Pinoy, Build Pinoy! – a grassroots campaign promoting the consumption of Filipino-made products and the development of integrated, world-class Filipino industries. He was also senior vice chairperson of the Committee on Higher and Technical Education, safeguarding the youth’s right to affordable and quality education. He ran for senator in the 2013 elections but could not overcome the obstacles of traditional, patronage politics to win a seat.
A relentless fighter of corruption and government abuse, Teddy authored and consistently pushed for the Whistleblowers Protection and Rewards Bill, Freedom of Information Bill, the Anti-Dynasty Bill and the House version of the Anti-Epal Bill.
In performing his legislative and oversight functions, Teddy served with utmost integrity, honesty and excellence. He never figured in any anomaly or scandal and fully earned and deserved the people’s trust.
Dedicated family man
Teddy lives a simple life with his wife Ruth Garcia Cervantes, herself a former CEGP President and human rights advocate now taking up law at the San Beda College. They have two sons, Elian (10) and Emilio (6).
Teddy’s family is his main source of strength and inspiration. The future of his two sons is what keeps him striving for a better kind of politics and a truly just and democratic government and society.#