MANILA, Philippines—Lawmakers on Thursday bid farewell and paid tribute to Bohol Rep. Erico Aumentado in rites that started with a requiem Mass at the Batasang Pambansa and eulogies delivered by colleagues, honoring the Bohol representative who was also the province’s former three-term governor.
The House of Representatives reopened on a somber note Thursday as Aumentado was brought to the plenary hall for the last time.
Aumentado, 72, succumbed to pneumonia on Christmas evening.
Occidental Mindoro Rep. Amelita Villarosa, fellow House minority member, said Aumentado distinguished himself in the four terms he served in the legislature on top of bringing progress to Bohol.
Villarosa recalled that Aumentado once stood on the floor for 12 hours to defend the 1999 budget bill.
“It was considered the longest budget defense in the history of the House of Representatives,” she said in the eulogy.
She also remembered the Bohol lawmaker for standing alone on the floor in 1999 to foil a House resolution that asked the Supreme Court to allow a solon convicted of statutory rape to serve in congress.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte also said the lawmaker served as ethics committee chairman “with distinction.”
“He’s the proper man for that position,” Belmonte said in his eulogy, noting he had no qualms about giving the position to Aumentado even though committee chairmanships were usually awarded to members of the majority.
Belmonte said Aumentado had not come from a political family or a wealthy clan and earned respect in public office through hard work.
“Public service was to him not only a calling but a passion,” he said. “To him, public service was almost a religion.”
Belmonte recalled that whenever Aumentado was given a reward, he would instead refer the persons giving it to him to the church or to a charitable institution. Aumentado, a lawyer, also provided pro bono legal services to the poor, he added.
Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas said that in all the positions Aumentado occupied, he served with great skill and distinction. He also never lost any of his bids for a public position.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez praised Aumentado’s infrastructure projects for Bohol, and further hailed him for being a man of humble beginnings who rose to become a leader of men.
Aumentado’s granddaughter Jiselle Rae Villamor thanked lawmakers for their tribute, saying that more than his accomplishments, her grandfather made sure to live his virtues.
“His virtues are way bigger than what he has achieved,” she said.