By Hannah Torregoza
Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said the late Senator Edgardo J. Angara was a “major influence” in his professional and political career.
Drilon said it was Angara whom he said invited him to join the ACCRA (Angara Abello Concepcion Regala & Cruz) law office—a law firm that Angara put up along with prominent lawyers.
“It was Ed who invited me to join ACCRA. He convinced me that since ACCRA was a new firm then, it would offer bigger opportunities for me. As Ed promised, working in ACCRA was indeed an excellent career move,” Drilon said.
The Senate minority leader also said Angara’s passing came as a shock to him, saying he was with the former Senate leader in Tagaytay together with their friends and colleagues hours before the latter died on Sunday due to heart attack.
“Ed’s passing came as a shock to me as I’m sure it did to most of us here today. When I first heard the news, it felt like the rug was pulled out from under my feet,” Drilon recalled. Drilon was with Angara in Tagaytay together with their friends and colleagues hours before the latter died on Sunday.
“I am privileged to have known him, to have laughed, walked and worked with him. It is not easy to bid him farewell, but I find comfort in the thought that his was a life well-lived. In his lifetime, he enriched many lives, including mine,” Drilon said in his eulogy.
Even at the ripe age of 83, Drilon said that Angara still had so many plans for his country, which led him to kid that he needed 100 more years and live up to 183 years old to ensure they all came to fruition.
“Ed was a jewel of a friend – a man who had my highest respect and admiration. It is not a secret that he was a major influence in my professional and political life,” he said.
“We were not only fraternity brothers, we also worked together – from ACCRA to the Senate – and shared countless milestones,” he said.
He also recalled that when he was first elected senator in 1995, there was a change of leadership in the Senate, with Angara, who was then Senate President, being replaced by then-Senator Neptali Gonzales.
“With nary a thought of my nascent political career, I threw my full support to Ed,” said Drilon. That move, he said, caused him to lose a committee chairmanship but he then joined the opposition group in the Senate, called the “Conscience Bloc” along with Senators Angara, Blas Ople, Francisco Tatad, Juan Flavier, and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
He also supported Angara when he ran for vice president in 1998 under then Sen. Joseph “Erap” Estrada, who later became the President. Angara, however, lost to Macapagal-Arroyo who won the vice presidency.
“Our friendship transcended political colors and affiliations, even if sometimes, we found ourselves opposing each other and sitting in opposite political fences. Once he even tried to depose me as Senate President. But, the friendship remained,” said Drilon.
But with Angara’s passing, he said it would be difficult to fill the void he left behind, saying his sterling accomplishments in the fields of politics, public service, law, and the academe cemented his niche in the nation’s life and history.
“The impact of the laws he authored, such as the Free High School Act, the Senior Citizen’s Act, PhilHealth Act and many more, will be deeply felt and appreciated by generations of Filipinos,” Drilon noted.
“His journey on earth was marked by his courage and determination to pursue his vision for our country, as well as his deep reservoir of ideas on how to uplift the lives of our countrymen,” he continued.
“Our country may have lost one of its brilliant minds and illustrious sons, but I am certain that Ed’s legacy is cradled in the bosom of a grateful nation,” he pointed out.
Senator Loren Legarda, in a tearful eulogy for the former Senate chief, said that despite being a very accomplished lawyer, legislator, and statesman, Angara had always maintained a connection with the people.
“Maybe because even with all his achievements, he had always considered himself a ‘probinsiyano.’ He dearly loved his home province and its people, including the Dumagats, the indigenous people of Aurora,” Legarda enthused.
“But his love for the IPs was not limited to the Dumagat. He had deep respect for our indigenous peoples. He had deep appreciation for our indigenous culture bearers, which actually led him to create the National Living Treasures Award, a prestigious recognition for exceptional traditional Filipino artists,” she said.
Angara, she said, is a true patron of the arts and a passionate cultural worker who authored and sponsored laws creating the National Museum, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and the National Cultural Heritage Law.
“The passing of Ed marks the end of an era. But his legacy lives on,” Legarda said.
“We may have lost one of the Philippines’ most brilliant minds, but he left an indelible mark not only in this nation’s history but also in the life of every Filipino who has benefitted and will benefit from his life-long work as a public servant,” added the senator.
Role model for younger senators
In addressing his colleagues, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III urged younger senators to look up to Angara “as a paragon of what a senator of our Republic should be.”
“As a lawmaker, the laws he authored, sponsored or supported made a significant impact in the fields of education, health, social welfare, agriculture, good governance, energy, environment, and even cultural arts. Name it, and he had contributed to it,” Pimentel said.
As enumerated in the Senate Resolution No. 105, Pimentel said the legislative achievements of Angara “show us that he is a complete, multi-faceted, multi-talented, indefatigable visionary Senator.”
“As Senate President, he was instrumental in the creation of the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Committee or the LEDAC,” he said.
“Senator Edgardo J. Angara’s life on Earth was never idle. With a definitive sense of purpose, this man served his mission to end, wasting no time,” added Pimentel.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto also hailed Angara’s accomplishment in the Senate saying his “output of laws is encyclopedic.”
“Call a politician productive and it would be dismissed as a hyperbole. But use it to describe Ed Angara, and it comes off as an understatement,” Recto said.
“Ed’s output of laws is encyclopedic. And the records of this institution will bear me out that such is no exaggeration,” he added.
And while the rule in the Senate is to strut and prance before the public, Recto said Angara plodded on in silence, away from the camera lights of television.
“He never tallied ‘likes’, neither did he fuss over ‘shares’. He was more concerned with the fine print of the law than the size of headlines he never chased. If there was one thing he relentlessly pursued, it was a record of selfless service and a score of laws—unlike today, when the race is on who can post the most number of selfies,” Recto pointed out.