In Bataan, ‘Pitbull of Congress’ buried
BALANGA CITY—Once described as “the Pitbull of Congress,” Vice Governor-elect Enrique “Tet” Garcia Jr. died of pneumonia while being treated for a lingering liver ailment at the Makati Medical Center on June 13. He was 75.
His son, reelected Gov. Albert “Abet” Garcia, broke the news over social networking site Facebook at dawn on June 14. The announcement about his father’s death struck a chord in his hometown and stunned those who personally knew him.
Newly elected Rep. Geraldine Roman, of Bataan’s first district, sympathized with the Garcia family, describing the former governor as “a kind and brave public servant.”
“His vision and hard work paved the way for the progress that Bataan is now enjoying and we will surely miss the good person that he was,” Roman said of Garcia in her tribute posted on Facebook.
Even political enemies paid their respects to the late Garcia. Former Bataan Rep. Felicito Payumo, whose relatives ran and lost to Garcia’s children in various local posts in the 2013 elections, visited Garcia’s wake.
“I join his family in praying for the repose of his soul. Our career as public servants started at the same time. We were together in most public issues, at odds in others, but with public good in mind,” Payumo said.
He said he never let issues affect his personal friendship with Garcia. Garcia is survived by his wife, Vicky, and their children, Anna; Dinalupihan Mayor-elect Angela; newly elected Rep. Jose Enrique of Bataan’s second district; newly elected Balanga Mayor Francis, and Albert.
The elder Garcia was the incumbent representative of the second district before running unopposed for vice governor in the May 9 elections.
“Fondly known as Tet, he is remembered for his outstanding accomplishments as a dedicated public servant…” said the family’s announcement posted on Facebook.
As a veteran politician, Garcia served in the 8th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 16th Congress. He also served as Bataan governor for four terms (1992-1994, 2004-2007, 2007-2010 and 2010-2013).
His relatives remembered Garcia as a public servant who “presented a lasting solution to the classroom shortage in Bataan,” and “successfully fought for the retention of the petrochemical industry in his province which is now reaping tremendous benefits in terms of revenue and employment.”
While he was serving as congressman in the early 1990s, Garcia successfully prevented the Taiwanese Luzon Petrochemical Co. and Shell Philippines from transferring the site of the country’s petrochemical industry from his home province Bataan to Batangas.
On Aug. 24, 1990, Garcia took a leave of absence from the House of Representatives and vowed to resign if the planned petrochemical plant’s transfer was not stopped.
Garcia had filed a petition in the Supreme Court to stop the transfer, arguing that moving the petrochemical plant to Batangas was unfair to Bataan and to the general public.
The high court ruled in his favor in that landmark case where it ordered the retention of the plant’s original certificate of registration, saying that it should operate in Limay town in Bataan.
Reports said Bataan earned a minimum of P200 million a year in additional real property taxes for at least 10 years or P2 billion as a result of winning the case.
Garcia used the amount to start Bataan’s first extensive college scholarship program that benefited 12,000 scholars every year.
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