Ramon Magsaysay Jr, 74, is another former president’s kid who was in his late teens when his father was in Malacañang. He trained to become a mechanical engineer, a technocrat, a reserve officer of the Philippine Navy and head of his own business corporation that raked in millions from garments, tourism and cable.
He studied mechanical engineering at De Lasalle University in Manila, and took graduate business studies in US schools such as Harvard and New York University in his 20s. When he returned to the Philippines, he worked for big multinational corporations such as Procter and Gamble and Caltex Philippines, leaving these to become congressman of Zambales in his late 20s. Before and after leaving the lower house, and while he headed companies under RMJ corporation which he owns (it engaged in garments, tourism and cable), he was also a Reserve officer with the rank of Lt. Jr. Grade in the Philippine Navy for almost three decades. Now he remains a reserve officer of Philippine Navy Trustee.
Like other scions of former presidents, Magsaysay had also dreamed of being in Malacañang. His first stab at it was dashed, though, by Joseph Estrada. In 1992, Magsaysay ran for VP under Miriam Defensor-Santiago. He lost to Joseph Estrada while Miriam lost to Fidel V. Ramos. Magsaysay aligned with Ramos to enter the Senate instead in 1995. He got two terms, from 1995 to 2007. His second term was propelled by his being one of the senators who voted in favour of opening the bank envelope, which contained evidence needed in the impeachment case of then president Joseph Estrada.
In 2004, he was the third richest senator, richer than heiress Jamby Madrigal or former defense secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, according to the statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) they submitted that year.
As an engineer, Magsaysay prided himself in having authored laws “on technological advancements” like E-Commerce Law, Tuna Handline Fishing and AFMA (Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act). The latter was hailed as safety net against the harmful effects on farmers and fisherfolks of the WTO, but its implementation had been marked by lack of funds, and the diversion of existing earmarked funds into additional pork barrel.
He authored the Regional Headquarters for Multinational Corporations, Foreign Investments Act, among others. Add to that, if elected, Magsaysay vows to carry the “same ideology,” as his agenda include legislating a Terrorism Finance Act and Cybercrime Act.