Senators and former leaders paid tribute to the late Sen. Edgardo Angara on Wednesday for being a great visionary, an exemplary public servant and a trailblazer when it comes to legislating laws that will be benefit generations of Filipinos.
Angara was at the Senate on Wednesday for the last time, his home for almost 20 years. The ceremony was attended by his wife, Gloria, and children Alexandra Leia, Katerina Gloria, Anna Rosalyn and Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, relatives, colleagues from the law profession, and friends.
Angara, 83, suffered from a heart attack on Sunday in his Tagaytay resthouse.
Former presidents Joseph “Erap” Estrada, now the mayor of Manila, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, now a representative of Pampanga, were among Angara’s former colleagues who delivered their eulogies.
Estrada described Angara as “a tool to change lives.” The late senator was part of his Cabinet as agriculture secretary and executive secretary months before he was ousted.
“We’ve lost a public servant of the highest integrity and a legislator with compassion, an intellectual with the heart for the poor, a champion for the cause of education,” Estrada said.
“It was a great honor to be his friend. I have such high hopes when I chose him as my running mate in 1998 presidential elections. I knew that I can rely on his loyalty, intelligence and desire to uplift the Filipinos from poverty,” he added.
Arroyo recalled that when Angara became a member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention, her father, former president Diosdado Macapagal, “identified him as one of the young turks destined to a bright political future.”
“Indeed he went on to achieve so much for so many especially education, for the economy, the farmers, and the elderly. In 1992 when he was chairman of the Senate committee on finance, he sponsored the Mt. Pinatubo law, to provide P10 billion to rehabilitate my disaster-torn region,” she said.
“Principle and strategic direction guided his legislation. His congressional commission on education led to his well thought out laws creating CHEd (Commission on Education) and TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority),” Arroyo added.
Former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., as well as former Senators Rene Saguisag and Pia Cayetano also delivered their eulogies.
In response to the accolades given to his late father, Sonny Angara said that the former “loved the Senate.”
The late senator will be buried in his hometown in Baler, Aurora on Saturday, May 19.
“He treasured the time he spent here. He called them the best years of his life and the relationships he formed and the bonds he formed with many of you here meant so much to him,” Sonny said.
Sen. Franklin Drilon said Angara’s sterling accomplishments in the fields of politics, public service, law, and the academe cemented his niche in the nation’s life and history.
“The impact of the laws he authored, such as the Free High School Act, the Senior Citizen’s Act, PhilHealth Act and many more, will be deeply felt and appreciated by generations of Filipinos,” he said.
The Senate presented Resolution 105 to Angara’s family that highlighted his achievements in government service, including the landmark laws that he authored.
Angara was the longest serving senator in the post-EDSA Senate. Except for a mandatory term break, he was elected to four consecutive terms of six years each.
He started his political career when he was elected in Quezon province as one of the youngest delegates to the 1971 Constitutional Convention. A year later, he founded together with an enterprising group of law classmates what would become one of the country’s top law firms, the Accra Law Offices.
Angara pushed for the passage of some of the country’s most memorable laws such as the Free High School Act, Commission on Higher Education (CHEd), Technical Education and Skill Development Authority (Tesda), the National Health Insurance Act (Philhealth), Senior Citizens Act, the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA), the Renewable Energy Act and the Procurement Reform Act.
He also authored and sponsor of the laws creating the National Museum, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the Natatanging Manlilikha Award which bestows honor on the Filipino folk and traditional artists. He also authored the National Book Publishing Industry Development Act and the National Cultural Heritage Law.