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Political Career

Mayor of Lipa City

In 1998, she entered politics and ran for mayor of Lipa City, Batangas where she won three consecutive elections, becoming the city's first female mayor.

In 2005, the University of the Philippines conferred on her the Gawad Plaridel Award for her achievements and contributions both as an actress and a public servant. In the same year she was conferred an honorary doctorate degree (honoris causa) in humanities by the Lipa City College. She was again honored in 2006 by the University of the Philippines as one of the four awardees in UP's First Diwata Awards.

Governor of Batangas

In 2007, Santos-Recto was on her third and final term as Mayor of Lipa and was barred for seeking another term. She became a reluctant candidate for Governor of Batangas, although his brother-in-law, incumbent Vice Governor Richard Recto is seeking the governorship.

On March 5, 2007, during the regular flag-raising ceremony at the Lipa City Hall, Santos-Recto ask for a week to decide if she will run or not. This was attended by thousands of her supporters not only in Lipa but from different towns in Batangas. On March 12, 2007, she made her final decision, running for Governor of Batangas despite having his brother-in-law as his rival, including incumbent governor Arman Sanchez and former police chief Nestor Sanares.

On the day of her filing of her candidacy, Richard Recto decided to withdrew his candidacy and run for congress instead.

Santos-Recto was proclaimed Governor-elect of the province of Batangas on May 21, 2007 after garnering 475,740 votes against incumbent Arman Sanchez's 344,969 becoming the first female governor of the province of Batangas. Governor Santos-Recto was reelected Governor of Batangas during the May 2010 elections and again, reelected as Governor of Batangas during the May 2013 elections and this is her last term for being a Governor.[13]

 

Member, House of Representatives

After her election for her third and final term as Governor of Batangas, speculations circulated that Santos-Recto would run for the national level. However, she declined every offer to run for a higher level. She decided to run as the first representative of the newly-formed 6th District of Batangas, would comprise only the City of Lipa. Santos-Recto won by a landslide, defeating Bernadette Sabili.

She became chairman of the Committee on Civil Service and Professional Regulation. However, she was removed from the post by the House leadership for her rejection of the reimposition of capital punishment. She is the vice chair of the committee on Globalization and WTO and the committee on local Government. She is also a member of the committees on Basic Education and Culture, Cooperatives Development, Information and Communications Technology, Interparliamentary Relations and Diplomacy, Labor and Employment, Poverty Alleviation, Public Works and Highways, Southern Tagalog Development, Ways and Means of Children, and Women and Gender Equality.