By Zea Capistrano
DAVAO CITY – Former Bayan Muna Partylist Repr. Joel Virador has died, his family confirmed on Tuesday. Virador was 52.
In his Facebook post, Virador’s son, Harvey Virador, posted photos of the former congressman with the caption:
“The best Tatay in the world. Salamat kaayo sa tanang ka ayo nimu tay. Pasayloa ko sa tanan nakong mga sayop. Amping sa imung biyahe tay. I love you.. Rest In Peace (The best father in the world. Thank you for your kindness. Please forgive me for my shortcomings. Take care in your journey).”
According to his son, Virador was battling a form of thyroid cancer called papillary carcinoma. He was diagnosed with the disease in 2013.
Virador’s former colleagues from the Makabayan bloc mourned his passing. Anakpawis Partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao said: “Today, I, we lost a great comrade, friend and mentor.”
“Rest now, we will continue the fight you fought. Di ka malimtan. Magpabilin ka sa among kasing-kasing og huna-huna (We will never forget you, you will remain in our hearts and minds). Highest salute to you Ka Joel Virador!,” Casilao posted on Facebook.
Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate told Manila Bulletin that Virador’s passing is a big loss for them and the people’s movement, especially in Mindanao.
“He was proud, honored to become an activist waging collective struggles and campaigns for the good of our country and people since his student days until he took a leave due to a lingering sickness,” he said.
“A true nationalist, he was a respected mass leader as well as a competent legislator. truly worthy of emulation, he will be missed as a friend and a dear Kauban,” Zarate said.
Former Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development Judy Taguiwalo said Virador’s death is “heavier than a mountain.”
Virador was a congressman from 2004 to 2007. In 2006, he and fellow representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party, and Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis Partylist were charged with rebellion twice.
The charges were filed following the signing of Proclamation 1017 by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo placing the country under a state of national emergency.
The lawmakers were accused of conspiring to overthrow the Arroyo government. Known as the “Batasan 5,” the lawmakers were placed under the protective custody of the House of Representatives for over two months, preventing their arrest.
The rebellion charges were later thrown out by the Supreme Court.
In 2010, Virador ran as a guest candidate of the local party, Hugpong sa Tawong Lungsod, led by President Rodrigo Duterte, who was then the city mayor.
Virador, known to friends as “JV”, was a known human rights activist and a former leader of Karapatan Southern Mindanao. He was born on March 5, 1967.