(delivered by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman on 26 November 2020)
Representative Raul Veloso Del Mar and I, among many others, were neophytes in the 8th Congress which convened on July 27, 1987, a little over a year after the EDSA I People Power Revolution. That was three decades and three years or 33 years ago.
When the current 18th Congress convened on July 22, 2019, 32 lears later, Raul and I were among the 10 survivors of the 8th Congress who were elected to the current Congress.
The eight others are Congressmen Ronaldo B. Zamora, Joaquin M. Chipeco Jr., Roger G. Mercado, Conrado M. Estrella III, Junie E. Cua, Abdullah D. Dimaporo, Jose L. Ong, Jr. and Rodolfo B. Albano, who died earlier.
Raul holds the enviable record and distinction of having a perfect attendance for nine Congresses. This exemplifies his incomparable diligence and complete devotion to duty. But he was not only merely present. He stayed on up to adjournment or end of the session, and he invariably actively participated in the plenary debates. When he was on crutches because of a broken leg, still he did not miss a single session day. Even during his last days in the hospital, he attended the congressional sessions via Zoom.
During the last Special Session on the 2021 General Appropriations Bill from October 13 to 16, 2020, instead of participating via Zoom, Raul was present in the plenary.
I was on Zoom when I saw him in the plenary hall on October 13, 2020 at around 7:00 PM. I hastened to call him and advised him to go home and avoid undue exposure during this pandemic. He answered that he was going home shortly. After several minutes I still saw him in the session hall so I called again to tell him to go home and just participate via Zoom. He assured me he was going home. That was the last time I talked with Raul.
When I learned that he passed away on November 16, 2020, I was extremely saddened and my blood pressure was elevated the whole day.
I truly miss a close and respected friend and colleague, a Distinguished Gentleman par excellence.
Although Raul and I were together in many major issues like upholding human rights, the crusade against the re-imposition of the death penalty, protection of children and affording equal rights to women, safeguarding freedom of the press and granting ABS-CBN a new or extended franchise, we were on opposite sides with respect to my advocacy for the enactment of a Reproductive Health Law.
Of all those Members of the House who opposed the RH Bill, Raul was the most civil and accommodating in the course of the long and heated debates. He stuck to the issues and avoided acrimonious accusations. His gentlemanly demeanor was beyond compare.
I recall that he steadfastly defended the appropriations for the Commission on Human Rights as Vice Chair of the Committee on Appropriations when there were attempts to reduce its outlay to zero for its critical stance against extra-judicial killings in the wake of the misplaced bloody was against drugs. In fact, he championed the augmentation of CHR’s budget. He also joined as a charter member of MAKATAO or Mambabatas Para sa Karapatan Pantao.
To the bereaved Mrs. Melanie Borromeo-Del Mar; Dr. Raoul Del Mar, a son of Raul who became a Congressman during the 11th Congress; Miss Rachel “Cutie” Del Mar who became a Congresswoman during the 15th Congress; and Mr. Ryan Del Mar, we assure all of you that the House of Representatives shares your great grief and immeasurable pain on the loss of a venerable legislator, an exemplary public servant, and a truly good man.