Buhay party-list lawmaker and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza paid tribute to former Manila Mayor Mel Lopez, citing the latter’s achievements as an outstanding public servant.
“Whether in his professional life or as a socio-civic leader in Tondo [Manila], Mel always showed his sincere love of country. During the dark days of martial law, we were among those who stood up and spoke against the [Marcos] dictatorship,” Atienza said during his privilege speech extolling the former mayor’s record as a public servant.
Atienza and Lopez were both running for Manila councilors under the Liberal Party (LP) and were on the stage during the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing in Quiapo, Manila.
“Mel and I, together with other LP candidates, were on the stage when the first grenade landed in front of us.
But by God’s grace, we were spared, suffering only minor injuries. But instead of being cowed into submission, Mel led the opposition in Manila to inform the people and keep them enlightened on the need to fight for the restoration of genuine democracy. Against all odds, Mel continued fighting the [Marcos] administration during the 1978 and 1980 elections, even if we all knew that we did not stand a chance against the government machinery,” Atienza, himself a former mayor of Manila, said in a statement.
Both were also part of the 59 opposition assemblymen in the 1983 Batasang Pambansa who refused to be silenced amid a parliament dominated and controlled by the government’s Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) members.
“During the February 15, 1986 proclamation of Marcos as President, the opposition MPs [Members of Parliament] met and agreed to walk out during the proceedings. Mel said we would not be part of the sham and obviously-rigged elections. Not even the threat of expulsion made him change his stand. This is what we need to remember–the kind of statesmanship and patriotism that Mel Lopez embodied and showed during his more than 50 years in public service. Many may claim to have contributed to the restoration of freedom and democracy after 1986 but we must not forget the contributions of Mel Lopez. To do so would be a travesty and an injustice to the memory of an exemplary man,” Atienza said.
He has filed House Bill 4737 seeking to rename a portion of Radial Road 10 within the City of Manila as Mayor Gemiliano Lopez Boulevard, “so the people shall remember the sacrifices made by the good mayor, and more important, the principles he stood for.”