Senators honor ‘democracy defender, veteran military man’ Pong Biazon

(GMA NEWS) Former and incumbent senators on Monday paid respects to “democracy-defender” and statesman Rodolfo “Pong” Biazon who passed away due to pneumonia.advertisement

“This is a bittersweet Independence Day, as the nation mourns the passing of Senator Rodolfo Biazon, one of our staunchest defenders of the peace and democracy that we are enjoying today,” Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a statement.

The Senate chief recalled how he learned from Biazon when he was till a “novice” senator and how he was inspired by his “uncompromising public service, not just as a veteran legislator but also as a veteran military man.”

“He brought that same military discipline and commitment to his work in the Senate, and to every aspect of his life as a public servant. I am grateful for the time that we spent in the Senate together,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri also recalled how Biazon served as their “fountain of guidance and wisdom.” Biazon reconnected with the incumbent senators during last year’s Senate reunion.

“May [his family] be comforted by the fact that the whole nation will remember Senator Biazon as a great man of service who dedicated his entire life and career to our people,” he said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda honored her former colleague as a “true officer and public servant who dedicated his life to public service.”

Legarda said Biazon’s unwavering commitment to the nation’s security and welfare will forever be remembered.

Senator Grace Poe also hailed Biazon for being an “exemplar soldier and solon.”

“His valuable work in fortifying the military institution and in lawmaking will not be forgotten,” said Poe.

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, for his part, recalled how Biazon showed him the “tricks of the trade and ways on how to become a more effective Commission on Appointments member.”

Villanueva had worked with the late senator in the CA during his term as party-list representative in the 14th Congress.

‘True officer and gentleman’

In a separate statement, Senator Bong Revilla honored Biazon whom he called as “the embodiment of a true officer and gentleman who devoted his entire life to serving the Philippines and the Filipino people.”

“[T]oday – Independence Day – is very fitting to be when he was called upon by our Creator to go home.  Snappy salute, Manong Pong. Rest in peace,” Revilla said.

Deputy Minority Leader Risa Hontiveros also expressed her appreciation to Biazon whom she tagged as a “great soldier, statesman, and solon.”

“He passed on this Independence Day, a reminder of his formidable, lifelong fight for our Inang Bayan.  Indeed, much can be said about all that he has done for the Filipino people, from his time as a Philippine Marine to his years in Congress, but what remained true all throughout was his unwavering love for the Philippines,” Hontiveros said.

Hontiveros remembered Biazon for his critical mind and his respect for human rights which she said are qualities essential for an officer and a gentleman.

The lawmaker tagged their first encounter at the EDSA Shrine during the second People Power Revolution as “unforgettable” not only because Biazon gave her “a crushing handshake” but also, it was the start of the many struggles which they fought together.

“A true patriot, Sen. Pong always answered the call of duty even when he was no longer in office. When the former administration could not express a clear stance vis-a-vis China’s incursions in the West Philippine Sea, Sen. Pong did not hold back from calling on our top officials to take a united position against China,” Hontiveros said.

“Time and again, when he saw that our nation was in peril, he stepped out from his private life and gave us public servants clarity and a sense of direction,” she added.

Even before her stint as senator, Hontiveros said Biazon has become “steady source of strength for women and women’s advocates in the fight for the passage of the Reproductive Health Law.”

Hontiveros hailed Biazon for challenging stereotypes and standing with women despite being regarded as macho due to his background in the military.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, who worked with Biazon in the 16th Congress, remembered the late senator’s push for the restoration of the Basic Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) and issues that advanced education, energy, consumer protection, and disaster response and management.

Meanwhile, Senator Robin Padilla lauded Biazon for his principles, both as a soldier and as a lawmaker.

This, Padilla said, would be one of Biazon’s legacies that the nation would never forget.

“His place in our history is secure, and what he has left behind – which was briefly considered to be made into a movie where I would have played a role – will always be an inspiration to me,” Padilla said.

Senator JV Ejercito also shared how Biazon became an “approachable senior colleague who never hesitated to provide advice and insight to younger lawmakers.”

Ejercito and Biazon worked together in the House of Representatives during the 15th Congress.

The lawmaker also lauded Biazon for fighting for the passage of bills that sought to establish low-cost housing. Biazon was one of the senators who chaired the Senate Committee on Urban Planning, Housing, and Resettlement.

“No one can ever question the breadth and depth of his courage and determination as a public servant. He was a man of principles, respected and adored by many. Hardened by his experience as a Marine, Senator Biazon possessed a fighting spirit that was difficult to match. He would carry on this fighting spirit until the very last minutes of life, in his final battle against lung cancer,” he said.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada recalled his experience while working with Biazon during the 13th and 14th Congress.

Estrada shared how Biazon showed his “unparalleled passion for public service and unwavering advocacy for low-cost housing and increased benefits for our soldiers.”

“His wisdom, experience, and exemplary work ethic were always evident, making him an invaluable asset to our institution and a true inspiration to us all,” Estrada said.

“Sen. Biazon’s legacy will forever be remembered, and his contributions to our nation will continue to shape our future for generations to come. As we mourn the loss of a great leader and statesman, let us also celebrate his remarkable life and the countless lives he touched,” he added.

Senators Sonny Angara and Francis Escudero joined his colleagues in paying respects to the former member of the chamber.

Former Senate Presidents Franklin Drilon and Vicente Sotto III also joined the politicians who acknowledge Biazon’s contribution to the country.

“A patriot has fallen. In his lifetime, Sen Pong Biazon always stood, and fought, for what is right for our country. He fought a good fight. Like an old soldier, General Biazon will  never die, he will just fade away,” Drilon said.

For his part, Sotto honored ‘fighter’ BIazon for his “extraordinary courage.” 

Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense also paid tribute Biazon, a former military chief.

“Sen. Biazon’s illustrious career spanned his active service in the military as an officer in the Philippine Marine Corps, and later entering public service as a member of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Throughout his decades-long service to the Filipino nation, Sen. Biazon embodied patriotism, integrity, and commitment to the protection of the country’s freedom and its democratic institutions,” the DND said in a statement.