Forced by the pandemic from holding traditional necrological services for deceased congressmen, the House of Representatives today paid a collective tribute to incumbent and former House members who passed away recently, some of them succumbing to COVID-19.
Led by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, the one hour, 30-minute memorial also honored employees who died as a result of the dreaded disease.
The late former Speaker Arnulfo “Noli” Fuentebella was among those eulogized but another ceremony has been scheduled for the former Camarines Sur solon.
Members of the 18th Congress who died this year were among those extolled by the House – Reps. Nestor Fongwan of Benguet and Marissa Andaya of Camarines Sur – and COVID-19 victims Francisco Datol Jr. of Senior Citizens partylist and Maria Bernadita Ramos of Sorsogon.
The COVID-19 situation prevented the chamber from scheduling necrological services for the deceased members that were supposed to be held during their wake.
Velasco said members of the House had made sure their dead colleagues will be honored despite the current pandemic situation, adding that the deceased deserved the tribute for their legislative contributions for the country.
Secretary General Hani Sipin said the event is one of the culminating activities of HRep Month, marking the 113th anniversary of the creation of the Philippine Assembly of elected district representatives.
Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez were among those who paid tribute to the deceased lawmakers.
“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,” Romualdez said.
He added: “These men and women blazed a trail in legislation and district representation that we, the younger generation, had chosen to emulate.”
The legislative body also paid its respects to former House members who died in the past year – Fuentebella, former Senators and Representatives Heherson Alvarez of Isabela, Maria Teresa Aquino-Oreta of Malabon-Navotas, and Edgardo Ilarde of Rizal.
Tributes were also given to former Reps. 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 party-list, 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 and Romualdez also led House members in honoring the House employees who died this year, some of them due to COVID-19. The two leaders lauded the deceased as the “unsung heroes of the 18th Congress.”
They are Minalang K. Barapantao Jr. (SLSO II, CAD), Gina C. Donina (LSE I, Engineering Service), Rezolito A. Paño (LSO V, Procurement and Supply Management Service), Grace L. Ilustrisimo (PAO III, Office of Rep. C.D. Montalla), Vincent Paul D. Natividad (PAA I, Office of Rep. M.N. Nagaño), Jose R. Mojado (PAO III, Office of Rep. R. Sinsuat), Arnel C. Pelayo (LSA II, Legislative Security Bureau), Joe Mar L. Maulion (PAA II, Office of Rep. R. del Mar), Ramon Ignatius C. Lazo (CPAO, Office of Rep. G. Roman), Brandon G. Pabelona (LSA III, Printing and Reproduction Service), Manuel E. Rocha (CPAO, Office of Rep. Bernardita Ramos), John Robert P. Milagroso (PAA II, Office of Rep. M.N. Nagaño), Mariano B. Tumaliwan (PAA I, Office 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, Office of Rep. R.B. Zamora), Philip G. Latonero (LSA III, Bills and Index Service), Lina Marciana T. Nario (SLSO III, Publication and Editorial Service), Jovita M. Baluso (LSA III, Cashiering Service), and Danivic Y. Rasay (LSO I, Legislative Security Bureau).
Eighty-six COVID-19 cases were recorded as of Oct. 23 at the House of Representatives, and 70 individuals or 82 percent of them have recovered.