21st Secretary of National Defense

July 1, 1999 to January 2001

Orlando “Orly” S. Mercado was born April 26, 1946 and grew up in the depressed area of Fabie Street in Paco. He is the second of five (5) children of public school teacher Guillermo P. Mercado of Dagami, Leyte and Adriana Sanchez of Bacoor, Cavite.

A product of the public school system, Mercado graduated valedictorian at the Celedonio Salvador Elementary School and with honors at the Manuel A. Roxas High School. He was the first public school student to represent the country in the New York Mirror Youth Forum in New York, USA, in 1961.

He supported his collage education by working as casual laborer at the Manila City Engineer’s Office and later as a clerk at City Hall. He earned the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and later, Master of Arts in Communication from the University of the Philippines. While already a Senator, he went back to graduate school in 1989 and obtained a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of the Philippines.

He was associate professor and head of the Communication Arts Department of Miriam Collage (formerly Maryknoll College); and professorial lecturer at the University of the Philippines, Asian Institute of Journalism, Ateneo de Manila University, Assumption College, and University of Santo Tomas.

Orly, as he is known to media circles, got his first break as a broadcaster when he landed a job as radio-TV announcer of the Republic Broadcasting System while taking his political science course at the State University. He lost that job when he organized a labor union that later declared a strike. He then transferred to ABS-CBN where he started as police reporter and was later tapped to head the popular radio program Radyo Patrol of ABS-CBN from 1969 to 1971.

His broadcasting career was interrupted when he was charged with violation of R.A. 1700, The Anti-Subversion Law. He was detained in Fort Bonifacio after Martial Law was declared. After release in November 1973, he joined GMA-7 News as a reporter.

He produces and hosts “Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko” (since 1975), the county’s longest running public service television program on GMA-7, helping the indigent and the needy from different parts of the country. Every Tuesday evening, he appears on Channel 5 with his wife, Dr. Susan Pineda-Mercado in a public service program entitled “KONTAK 5”.

He has been honored with various citations and awards, including the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) Award in the field of Public Service Broadcast Media.

He was elected on his first try at national politics to the first Regular Batasang Pambansa as an opposition Member of Parliament in Quezon City. He topped the May 14, 1984 election.

When President Corazon C. Aquino was swept into power by a civilian-backed military uprising in 1986, he was appointed chairman of the National Parks and Development Committee, which has jurisdiction over Rizal Park (Luneta).

He was first elected Senator in 1987 and re-elected for second term in 1992.

During his first term, Mercado was Majority Floor Leader and chairman of the Senate Committee on Trade and Commerce and the Committee on Science and Technology where he sponsored legislations, such as:

The Consumer Act of the Philippines (RA 7394); Generics Act of 1988 (RA 6675); An Act Establishing Provincial Centers for Science and Technology (RA 6959); and the Magna Carta for Disabled Persons (RA 7277).

 During his second term in the last congress, among the bills he authored which became law include:

The National Blood Service Act (RA 7719); An Act Granting Resident Status to Veterans (RA 7837); Barangay Health Workers Incentives Act (RA 7883); AFP Modernization Act (RA 7898); Salt Iodization Law (RA 7182); AFP Officer Grade Distribution (RA 8186); the Creation of Chief Master Sergeant and Senior Master Sergeant (RA 8220); and Philippine Passport Act of 1996 (RA 8239).

An Act Providing for Additional Funding from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to Support the Scholarship Program of the Department of Science and Technology Scholarship Act of 1994 (RA 8248); An Act Prescribing the Intellectual Property Code and Establishing the Intellectual Property Office, Providing for its Powers and Functions and for Other Purposes (RA 8293); and An Act Providing for the Reform and Reorganization of the Philippine National Police and for Other Purposes, Amending Certain Provisions of Republic Act 6975 (RA 8551).

While his second term as Senator, he headed the Senate Committee on National Defense and Security, Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, and Committee Cooperatives. He also headed Sub-Committee II of the Finance Committee, in charge of the budgets of the Department of National Defense and the Department of Health.

He was principal author of a bill mandating a single comprehensive framework on land use to guide the government in utilizing our land’s physical characteristics to satisfy prospective concerns. He has called for a total log ban.

For championing the cause of environmentalists, he was chosen to chair the Green Coalition, a non-stock environmental advocacy, non-governmental organization, (NGO). He represented Congress in the UNCED Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. He was an adviser to government panel in negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). He is also an adviser to the government panel presently negotiating with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MNLF).

He is a martial arts practitioner – a black belter in arnis with the rank of Lankan.