TOP leaders of the House of Representatives led a program honoring lawmakers and staff who have died amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez spearheaded the giving of tribute to four members of the 18th Congress as well as to the employees of the House who have passed away.
The House held a memorial service for Representatives Nestor Fongwan of Benguet, Marissa Andaya of Camarines Sur, Francisco Datol Jr. of Senior Citizens Party-list and Maria Bernardita Ramos of the 2nd District of Sorsogon, who were not accorded the traditional necrological services due to safety and health restrictions.
Datol and Ramos, both senior citizens, died after testing positive for COVID-19 while Andaya suffered cancer.
The Housealso paid its final respects to former House members who died in the past year, namely, former Speaker Arnulfo “Noli” P. Fuentebella, Jr. of Camarines Sur, former senators and representatives Heherson Alvarez of Isabela, Maria Teresa Aquino-Oreta of Malabon-Navotas, and Edgardo Ilarde of Rizal.
“Ito na marahil ang ating huling pamamaalam: na kahit na tila bumaligtad na ang mundo, gumawa po tayo ng sariling paraan para sama-sama, bilang isang mas matibay at maaasahang institusyon, ay lalo nating mapabuti ang pagpapanday ng batas sa ating bayan. Ito na marahil ang rurok na parangal natin sa kanila,” the Speaker said in his eulogy delivered during the “In Memoriam” tribute held at the House plenary.
The event was one of the culminating activities of HRep Month, marking the 113th anniversary of the creation of the Philippine Assembly of elected district representatives.
Tribute were also given to former Representatives Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. of Tarlac, Romulo Lumauig of Ifugao, Amadeo Perez, Jr. of Pangasinan, Milagrosa Tan of Samar, Edgar Mendoza of Batangas, Martin Isidro of Manila, Antonio Cuenco of Cebu, Arcadio Gorriceta of Iloilo, Jose Ping-ay of the COOP NATCCO Partylist, Alfredo Marañon Jr. of Negros Occidental, Augusto Syjuco Jr. of Iloilo, Zenaida De Castro-Maranan of 1-UTAK Partylist, Elnorita Tugung of Basilan, Pacifico Fajardo of Nueva Ecija, and Yusop Jikiri of Sulu.
Velasco expressed his gratitude to the deceased legislators and employees for their contributions to the country and their dedication to serve even in the midst of the pandemic.
“At kung mayroon mang katangian ang bawat isang pinararangalan ngayon, ito po ay ang kagustuhan nilang patuloy na maglingkod sa ating bayan hanggang sa kanilang huling hininga. Pinili nilang maging mandirigma. Pinagpipitaganang mambabatas man, o empleyado ng Kamara, bawat isa ay piniling maglingkod sa bayan ng dalisay at walang pag-iimbot,” the Speaker said.
Romualdez joined Speaker Velasco and other colleagues in paying tribute to four Members of the 18th Congress who died in service to the Filipino people.
Romualdez, both President of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) and Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), also expressed gratitude to the lawmakers for “choosing to continue performing their duties as Representatives of our people despite the threat of COVID-19 infection.”
“It pains us to see their empty chairs in the plenary hall, but we are comforted by the fact that they fought valiantly against their illness in order to carry on with their unselfish devotion to public service. Our fallen comrades may be gone, but I am sure that their memories will linger on forever in the hearts and minds of those whose lives they had touched,” he said.
The legislators also lauded the 21 House employees from the Secretariat and Congressional Staff who succumbed to various illnesses directly or indirectly related to COVID-19. These men and women, Romualdez said, “had worked with us in the trenches, regularly reporting for work at the height of the coronavirus spread in the country.”
“They are the unsung heroes of the 18th Congress,” Romualdez added, stressing that the services and sacrifices of the employees will never be forgotten.
They are: Minalang K. Barapantao, Jr. (SLSO II, CAD), Gina C. Donina (LSE I, Engineering Service), Rezolito A. Paño (LSO V, Procurement & Supply Management Service), Grace L. Ilustrisimo (PAO III, Ofc. Of Rep. C.D. Montalla), Vincent Paul D. Natividad (PAA I, Ofc. of Rep. M.N. Nagaño), Jose R. Mojado (PAO III, Ofc. of Rep. R. Sinsuat), Arnel C. Pelayo (LSA II, Legislative Security Bureau), Joe Mar L. Maulion (PAA II, Ofc. of Rep. R. Del Mar), Ramon Ignatius C. Lazo (CPAO, Ofc. of Rep. G. Roman), Brandon G. Pabelona (LSA III, Printing & Reproduction Service), Manuel E. Rocha (CPAO, Ofc. of Rep. Bernardita Ramos), John Robert P. Milagroso (PAA II, Ofc. of Rep. M.N. Nagaño), Mariano B. Tumaliwan (PAA I, Ofc. of Rep. B. Fernando) Allan Andrew V. Ramoso (SLSO III, CAD), Eleanor C. Mamaril (SLSO II, CPBRD), Lilia C. Lopez-Valencia (LSO VI, CAD), Perla T. Velasco (CPAO, Ofc. of Rep. R.B. Zamora), Philip G. Latonero ( LSA III, Bills & Index Service), Lina Marciana T. Nario (SLSO III, Publication & Editorial Service), Jovita M. Baluso (LSA III, Cashiering Service), and Danivic Y. Rasay (LSO I, Legislative Security Bureau).
At the House of Representatives, 85 COVID-19 By cases were recorded as of October 3, and 70 individuals or 82% of them have recovered.