By Hannah Torregoza
Former Senate President Edgardo Angara, who authored many landmark laws on education, health, and social benefits, was laid to rest in his hometown in Barangay Reserva in Baler, Aurora, on Tuesday, May 22.
Angara’s son Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, his immediate family, fraternity brothers, lawmakers, and former colleagues in Congress, paid their last respects to the former Senate chief.
Senators Franklin Drilon, Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, Richard Gordon, and Taguig City Rep. Pia Cayetano were among those who joined at least a thousand residents as they laid him to rest Tuesday morning in Baler.
The former lawmaker passed away last May 13 in his residence in Tagaytay City at the age of 83 due to heart attack.
The younger Angara vowed to continue the advocacies of his late father, particularly in the field of education and health to be able to help a wide segment of the society needing government support.
“I am truly proud of my father’s achievements and it is very important that his legacy continues,” Angara said.
“My father was a true champion of the people’s right to education and all his advocacies as a politician and educator are all worth pursuing,” he said.
The senator said he was glad that he and his father shared the same view that education “is the great socioeconomic equalizer and a powerful tool to break the cycle of poverty.”
As a lawmaker, the elder Angara also pushed for laws that created the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). He also authored the Free High School Act, which ensured secondary education to serve especially the poorest, and the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (GASTPE) – touted as the biggest scholarship program of the government.
Among his landmark measures were the Senior Citizens Act, the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers, and the National Health Insurance Act that created the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
For his part, the younger Angara said one of the measures he is pushing for is a bill that would grant an all-year round transportation discounts to students.
“That is why we are pushing for a passage of a bill that would institutionalize the grant of student fare discounts in land, air and sea transport even on weekends, holidays, and semestral breaks,” the senator said.
If passed into law, the senator said such measure would greatly help families because money that would be saved from the discounts can be used to other equally important expenditures.
The younger Angara, as a three-term congressman and first-term senator, had pushed for the passage of the Free College Law and the Unified Student Financial Assistance System Act (UNIFAST) to ensure that scholarships go to poor and deserving students.
Currently, he is vigorously pushing the expansion of the Universal Healthcare Law to cover free check-ups and laboratory tests.
“I think this is one of the bills we need to focus on. I am sure that my father will be happy in the event that we are able to widen the coverage of the PhilHealth because he authored this bill,” Angara said.