The House of Representatives on Monday, June 6 honored the late former Occidental Mindoro Rep. Amelita Calimbas-Villarosa, the first woman deputy speaker of the chamber, in necrological services held at the Batasan Pambansa plenary hall.
Villarosa, former executive vice president of Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) party, succumbed to aneurism on May 31, on the day of her 78th birthday. She represented her congressional district during the 11th, 13th and 14th Congress.
Speaker Lord Allan Velasco led the Lower House in praising Villarosa’s significant legislative contributions that addressed women’s rights and issues, rural electrification, housing, environmental protection and public health emergency.
Former President and Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., former Speaker Jose De Venecia Jr., and House Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez also delivered eulogies for the late lawmaker.
House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza acted as the ceremonial officer during the necrological service, which started with a Requiem Mass presided by Rev. Fr. Luciano Felloni.
Velasco lauded Villarosa for strengthening the institution of the Girls Scouts of the Philippines to empower girls of whatever age, and for introducing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or the conditional cash transfer program, which is now one of the government’s landmark poverty alleviation and welfare initiatives.
In his eulogy, M Romualdez remembered Villarosa, fondly called “Girlie” by colleagues and family members, as “a guiding light to young members of Lakas-CMD” which is now headed by him.
“Deputy Speaker Villarosa left a void in our hearts too difficult to fill as she was not only a colleague or a friend. She was the embodiment of what we all envision a Filipino woman should be. Affectionate, yet fearless in expressing her views. Loving, yet fiery in aiding the defenseless,” Romualdez said.
According to Romualdez, Villarosa steered the enactment into law of vital measures including the Magna Carta for Women, extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, Access to Cheaper and Quality Medicine and the Cooperative Code of the Philippines.
“What I consider one of her edifying legacies is her influential role in the passage of the law allowing automated election in the Philippines. That law authorized Comelec to conduct pilot testing of a Computerized Election System in some provinces in 1998, which eventually paved the way for automated national election in 2010,” Romualdez noted.
Arroyo, a close friend of Villarosa, also cited the late solon for her “sincerity, willingness to work hard and for her non-confrontational style” of leadership.
“Her kind and soft-spoken ways belie the firmness she possessed whenever her beliefs were challenged,” said the former chief executive.
Arroyo described Villarosa’s election as the first deputy speaker of the Lower House as a milestone for women-politicians.
“She wore that hat well, lending her position to advance the causes that championed more rights to marginalized sector, especially the women, the disabled and the poor,” she said.
Villarosa, Arroyo recalled, was a deeply religious woman who was a regular pilgrim to the Our Lady of Manaoag in Pangasinan. According to her the Mindoro Occidental solon had survived cancer and pneumonia, but died of a “previously undetected aneurism.”
Towards the end of the necrological service, Velasco presented to the Villarosa family a legislative memorabilia containing House Resolution No. 182, which the chamber adopted before it adjourned sine die on June 2.
Villarosa is survived by her husband, former Rep. Jose T. Villarosa; and five children, namely: Voltaire Anthony, Mariliza, Frances Joami, Maria Theresa and Michael Jose.