Current and former members of the House of Representatives and some members of President Duterte’s Cabinet paid their tribute to the late Cebu City 1st District Rep. Raul Veloso Del Mar, whom they described as a “venerable legislator”, “an exemplary public servant,” and “a man of integrity and principle”.
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco led the Lower Chamber in paying last respects to the 79-year old veteran lawmaker who died on Nov. 16.
During a hybrid memorial service at the Batasang Pambansa, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman recalled that he and Del Mar were among the neophyte lawmakers in the 8th Congress, which convened on July 27, 1987 or a little over a year after the EDSA People Power Revolution.
“Raul holds the enviable record and distinction of having a perfect attendance for nine Congresses. This exemplifies his diligence and devotion to duty. But he was not only merely present. He stayed on up to adjournment or end of the session, and he invariably actively participated in the plenary debates,” he said.
“When he was on crutches because of a broken leg, still he did not miss a single session day. Even during his last days in the hospital, he attended the congressional sessions via Zoom.”
He said when he learned that Del Mar passed away on Nov.16, he “was extremely saddened and my blood pressure was elevated the whole day.”
“I truly miss a close and respected friend and colleague, a Distinguished Gentleman par excellence,” Lagman said.
He said while, he and Del Mar were together in many major issues like upholding human rights, the crusade against the re-imposition of the death penalty, protection of children and affording equal rights to women, safeguarding freedom of the press and granting ABS-CBN a new or extended franchise, they were on “opposite sides with respect to my advocacy for the enactment of a Reproductive Health Law.”
“Of all those Members of the House who opposed the RH Bill, Raul was the most civil and accommodating in the course of the long and heated debates. He stuck to the issues and avoided acrimonious accusations. His gentlemanly demeanor was beyond compare,” he recalled.
Del Mar’s “colourful life” as a public servant also struck Negros Oriental 1st District Rep. Jocelyn Sy Limkaichong.
“In his 27 years of serving as the First District Representative of Cebu City, he was known as the Kampyon ng Media – being a staunch advocate of press freedom and the rights of journalists. He is greatly respected in the House of Representatives for his wisdom, his competence, and above all, his kindness,” she said.
“In fact, he was to have been elected deputy Speaker of the House, but God had other plans for him”
The House leader said even when Del Mar was already frail, he was very active in the budget briefings from start until the end.
“Manong Raul has been our political and personal ally in the Liberal Party since 2012. To me, he truly embodied the values of the Liberal Party: Kalayaan, Katuwiran at Bayanihan. He was a man of integrity and was always happy to help other people,” she said.
“When Manong Raul is committed in something, he will be loyal to it until the end. He was truly a man of principle. It is sad that a man of such talent, capability, and kindness should now be gone. Members of the Liberal Party and many of our colleagues here in the House of Representatives greatly benefited from his wisdom and guidance as a veteran lawmaker.”
Among those who delivered eulogies to Del Mar were his former colleagues, former Deputy Speaker Raul Daza, former La Union Rep. Victor Ortega, former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.
Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin also honored Del Mar in their eulogies.
In a statement, House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez, Del Mar’s close friend, said Del Mar “belonged to that rare breed of statesmen in Philippine Congress who masterfully balance their work as legislator and district representative.”
“I have to admit, Representative Raul Del Mar was the kind of public servant that your Majority Leader aspire to be. He had set the bar so high for an elected Member of the House of Representatives. Never missing a session throughout his twenty-seven years of service as legislator. One who was first to arrive in plenary and the last to leave after adjournment,” he said.
Del Mar, who was tagged as “Cebu’s Father of Legislative Infrastructure” served during the 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 16th and 17th Congresses.
He held various positions in the Lower Chamber. These include deputy speaker during the 13th and 14th Congresses, and head of the House contingent to the powerful Commission on Appointments for the 9th and 10th Congresses.
He also assumed as chairperson of the Committee on Inter-Parliamentary Relations and Diplomacy for the 16th Congress, vice chairperson of the Committee on Appropriations for the 17th Congress, and member of various standing committees.
Del Mar authored several legislative measures of national significance. These include Republic Act 9593, otherwise known as the Tourism Act of 2009; RA 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act; RA 9262 or Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act of 2004; RA 9189 or the Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003; RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002; and RA 9160 or the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2001.
Due to his exemplary achievements and contributions, Del Mar was a recipient of numerous awards and citations. These include the Presidential Medal of Merit Award on August 14, 2007; Pro Deo Vitae Et Patria Award on August 27, 2007; Human Vitae Award on April 16, 2010; Papal Cross “Croce Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice” on August 14, 2010; “2018 Outstanding Carolinian Alumni Award” on October 18, 2018; and “2018 The Outstanding Filipinos (TOFIL)” Award for government and public service on December 5, 2018.