MANILA — Former and incumbent senators convened on Thursday at the Senate session hall to pay tribute in honor of the late former Senate president Ernesto Madarang Maceda.
The casket bearing the Maceda’s remains arrived at the Philippine Senate at 4pm with Senate President Franklin Drilon leading the incumbent and former senators, Senate officials and protocol officers welcoming Maceda’s family.
After a brief arrival honor, the casket was brought to the session hall for necrological service that lasted for over an hour.
In their respective eulogy speeches, seven former and incumbent senators remembered their fond memories with Maceda and gave their beautiful words to their former colleague.
Former senator Rene Saguisag remembered Maceda as “first class parliamentarian” who was one of the 12 senators who voted to reject a new treaty for the United States bases, ending the American military presence in the country that has lasted for almost century.
Other members of the so-called Magnificent 12 who voted against US bases extension include then Senate president Jovito Salonga and senators Agapito “Butz” Aquino, Juan Ponce Enrile, Joseph Estrada, Teofisto Guingona Jr., Sotero Laurel, Orlando Mercado, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Victor Ziga, Wigberto Tañada and Saguisag.
Salonga passed away only last March 10 at the age of 95.
Enrile and Mercado and also gave their eulogy speeches while Ziga read the eulogy sent by former senator and former President and now Pampanga congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who remains in hospital arrest for alleged electoral fraud in 2004.
”I never thought in all of my 93 years on this planet, I would join in this gathering to participate in the negrological service for a man who is close to me in private life as well as in my public life,” the 93-year-old Enrile said.
Enrile described Maceda as “valuable conversant and listener but very strong in his opinion about certain things.”
Mercado, on the other hand, remembered ‘Manong Ernie’ as they fondly called him as a “workaholic and enjoy lawmaking.”
”He was a consummate legislator. He was very diligent and industrious and he worked hard,” Mercado said.
Former Senator Francisco Tatad also delivered eulogy speech, saying Maceda “gave himself totally to the nation” and tirelessly passed laws that benefitted the country.
Tatad said Maceda had always been prepared to sacrifice his personal comfort for the good of the country.
“He left a permanent mark in this institution. He was uncompromising and he was firm but never mean-spirited. He exposed many wrongs or wrong-doers to bring about changes but never used the exposes for his own personal use,” Tatad said.
Senator Gregorio ‘Gringo’ Honasan II described Maceda as his mentor whom he met 30 years ago in Club Filipino in San Juan at the height of uprising against former President Ferdinand Marcos.
”Manong Ernie’s life has to be defined in terms God, country and family. He was deeply spiritual, he was believer in miracle, foremost of it he was 81 years,” Honasan said.
Drilon presented Maceda’s family with a Senate resolution expressing the profound sympathy and sincere condolence of the Senate on the death of the great statesman.
The Senate Resolution stated that Maceda had distinguished himself as a tireless bureaucrat and principled lawmaker who placed the interest of the nation above all else.
“His passing away is a great loss not only to his bereaved family but to the nation as well,” the resolution said.
Maceda, 81, passed away on Monday evening, due to multiple organ failure. The Senate has been flying its flag at half-mast since Maceda passed away as a symbol of mourning.
Drilon commended Maceda as one of the most widely respected names in Philippine politics, saying that the late senator was an “intellectual giant who carved his own remarkable niche in the world of politics, diplomacy and media.”
“In his five decades of dedicated public service, Manong Ernie took on different roles that showcased his brilliance, professionalism, work ethic, organizational skills and political savvy,” Drilon said.
He recalled that when he joined the Senate as a freshly-minted Senator in 1995, “Manong Ernie was already a legend who captured the nation with his political feats.”
“He was a highly-esteemed member of the post-EDSA Senate because of his thoroughness and resourcefulness in crafting laws,” he said.
“His relentless pursuit of excellence and truth earned for him the nickname, “Mr. Expose,” he added.
Other senators who attended the necrological services included Senator Nancy Binay and former Senators Loi Ejercito, Leticia Ramos-Shahani, Santanina Rasul, Nikki Coseteng, Pimentel, Tañada, Heherson Alvarez and Freddie Webb.
Maceda served as senator from 1971-1972, 1987-1992 and 1992-1998. He was elected Senate President from 1996-1998, Senate President Pro Tempore from 1992-1993 and former Minority Leader in 1998. He also served as a cabinet member, a media commentator and as Ambassador to the United States from 1999-2001.
He was a highly educated person and the 1956 bar topnocher, having obtained his associate in arts, magna cum laude, and bachelor of laws, cum laude, at the Ateneo de Manila University; master of laws, with distinction, Harvard Law School; doctor of juridical science candidate, Harvard Law School; Harvard International Legal Studies Fellow and Basic Management program, Asian Institute of Management.
He was popularly known as Mr. Expose and a fiscalizer in the Senate He was responsible for exposing and investigating numerous cases of anomalies and irregularities in government such as the “chop-chop” smuggling operation, the “octopus control of piers and ports, the Borloloy building issue and the PEA-Amari deal which resulted in an additional PHP35-billion for the government coffers, the prosecution of persons responsible for this anomalous deal and the institution of corrective measures that addressed the loophole of existing laws. Jelly Musico/PNA/northboundasia.com