Fernando Lopez was a public servant of
untarnished reputation and record of performance. Born on April 13,
1904 in Jaro, Iloilo to Benito Lopez and Presentacion Hofilena, Lopez
was a descendant of Graciano Lopez-Jaena.
Lopez finished high school at the San Juan de
Letran in 1921, obtained his bachelor of laws degree at the University
of Santo Tomas in 1925, and earned a rating of 84.4 % in the bar
He then helped his older brother Eugenio
manage a chain of Lopez enterprises. At the same time, he pursued his
interests in journalism and education. He was one of the founders of
Iloilo College and the Feati University in Manila and became president
of Iloilo College when it evolved into a university. Before the war,
the Lopezes owned the Iloilo Negros Air Express Company, the first
airline company in the country and a newspaper, the Iloilo Times. They
acquired the Manila Chronicle after the war.
In 1945, Lopez was picked by President
Osmeña to be mayor of Iloilo City. In 1947, he ran as senator
under the Liberal Party and won. He then became vice president and
concurrently, secretary of agriculture, from 1949-53 when Elpidio
Quirino emerged as president. In his three terms as a senator, he
authored or co-authored more than 200 legislative measures, many of
which became laws, like the public land act, those on the Philippine
Veterans Bank and the Veterans Federation of the Philippines. He was
responsible for amending C.A. 186, to allow the voluntary retirement of
government personnel after rendering 15 years of service, as well as
Articles 340 and 341 of the Revised Penal Code, to impose heavier
penalties for the crimes of corruption of minors and trafficking in
white slavery. He also exposed the immigration quota racket and other
forms of graft and corruption in the government.
Later, he became disenchanted with the LP and
formed the Democratic Party with General Carlos P. Romulo. For the
second time in 1965, he won as vice-president and served concurrently
as secretary of agriculture and natural resources under President
When President Marcos activated the Rice and
Corn Production Coordinating Council in 1966, Lopez, who served as its
chairman, was dubbed “rice czar.” Under him, the council used IR-18, a
high-yielding rice variety also known as “miracle rice” to boost rice
production. The program was a huge success, recording a harvest of up
to 273 cavans per hectare compared to the national average of 29.8
cavans per hectare.
Lopez resigned in 1971 and turned into a major
opposition critic when his older brother Eugenio got into disagreement
with President Marcos. After Marcos declared martial law the following
year, his plan to run for the presidency in 1973 was consequently
scuttled. Marcos and his cronies grabbed the Lopez business enterprises
and had Eugenio imprisoned.
After the Edsa Revolution of February 1986
that swept Marcos from the presidency, the Lopezes regained Meralco,
ABS-CBN and the Manila Chronicle.
Lopez also briefly served as adviser on
development affairs of President Fidel Ramos.
He died on May 26, 1993. He was married to
Mariquit Javellana on May 27, 1924. They had six children.