Victor Ziga, John Osmeña, and Dante Jimenez were truly great men in their own right. When I learned last week that they had passed away one after the other, I knew our country had lost outstanding Filipinos whose legacy of public service was indeed remarkable.
All three were dear to me as they touched my life one way or the other. Ziga and Osmeña were my former colleagues in the Senate during the late 1980s and early 1990s. Jimenez, as we all know, was a prominent anti-crime advocate, apparently the nation’s staunchest crusader against high crimes and corruption.
Sen. Ziga, who hailed from Albay province, was the pride of Bicolandia who gained national prominence after winning in the 1984 Batasang Pambansa elections even while he carried the opposition banner during the Marcos regime.
Senate Resolution No. 630 introduced last week by Senators Tito Sotto and Miguel Zubiri appropriately lavished praise on Sen. Ziga for “exhibiting moral courage and uncompromising ethical commitment to honesty in government and for the environment; he publicly denounced graft and corruption in all levels of government and criticized the inability of the administration to curb pollution.”
“As senator, he was instrumental in the passage of important measures such as RA 6728 which provides government assistance to students and teachers in private educational institutions; RA 6948 which standardizes and upgrades the benefits of military veterans and their dependents; RA 6957; the ‘Build-Operate-Transfer Law’; RA 7160; the Local Government Code of 1991; RA 7395; the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers; and RA 7432 which grants benefits and special privileges to senior citizens,” the resolution said.
Sen. Ziga “also authored and co-authored 295 bills and resolutions, the most notable of which were measure which seeks to require all primary and secondary schools to integrate in their curriculum the teaching of the dangers and evil effects of drug dependency, drug addiction and drug abuse and the bill which seeks to prohibit the manufacture, distribution, and sale of cigars and cigarettes without the warning, ‘Smoking is dangerous to your health’ printed on their labels, packs, cartoons, or packages,” the resolution added.
“Even after his retirement from politics, he continued to serve his fellow Filipinos who have less in life by associating and involving himself in typhoon relief operations and civic organizations such as the free Medical Eye Specialist Mission and the Medical Mission of the Philippine General Hospital,” the senators said.
For all his sterling achievements that he pursued with quiet elegance, Sen. Ziga certainly deserves the admiration of Filipinos, especially Bicolanos who have always held his family in high esteem, his father Venancio Ziga having been Albay congressman and governor, and mother Tecla San Andres Ziga a former senator and first woman Bar topnotcher.
I shall always be grateful to Sen. Ziga for his efforts to endear me to his kababayans in the Bicol region during the election campaign in 1987.
Sen. Osmeña was the pride of Cebu and grandson of former President Sergio Osmeña. He was a four-term senator, and also was congressman, mayor, and city councilor. He was also named one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines” in 1970.
Among his achievements as senator were the Municipal Telephone Act (RA 6849), the Mini-Hydro Incentive Act (RA 7156), the Public Telecommunications Act of 1995 (RA 7925), the Postal Service Act of 1992 (RA 7354), the Amended Build-to-Operate Act (RA 7718, the Department of Energy Act of 1992 (RA 7638), the Electric Power Crisis Act of 1993 (RA 7648), and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (RA 9163).
In Senate Resolution No. 635 passed last week, senators said the veteran politician “earned the monicker ‘Lone Ranger’ for his independent-mindedness and firm stand on certain national issues despite the fact that his ideas may clash with what the majority believes in.”
I myself witnessed such independent-mindedness and firmness during our budget deliberations when he was chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
Jimenez is best known for his decades-long advocacy against crime and violence which was sparked by the 1990 murder of his brother Jaime by a drug syndicate in a case of mistaken identity. He organized the Crusade Against Violence (CAV) along with Romulo Villa, father of hazing victim Leonardo Villa whose death prompted me to pursue the Anti-Hazing Law.
In 1998, Jimenez also formed, together with Lauro Visconde whose family fell victim to murder, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) which advocates for criminal justice. Until his death, Jimenez was the chairperson of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and co-chairperson of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs.
For his unrelenting crusade against crime and corruption, Jimenez, who hails from Camarines Sur, was also the pride of Bicolanos. He was an avid follower of my Teleradyo program Sagot Ko ‘Yan, and I shall certainly miss those early Sunday mornings when he would often text me his very sensible comments on various topics I discussed with resource persons.
With the remarkable achievements of these great men whose lives were devoted unselfishly to outstanding public service, Ziga, Osmeña, and Jimenez certainly made their kababayans proud.
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