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Cebu congressman del Mar dies at 79

Michelle R. Guillang

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Congressman Raul del Mar of Cebu City’s north district passed away on Monday night while he was confined at a hospital in Manila. He was 79.

The cause of his death has not been disclosed as of press time.

He was supposed to assume the position of Deputy Speaker under the leadership of House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco upon the resumption of House session.

“We extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family of former Deputy Speaker Raul Veloso del Mar. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his constituencies in the first district of Cebu City, whom he had served well despite his health condition,” Velasco said on Tuesday.

Del Mar served as Deputy Speaker under former House Speaker Jose de Venecia from 2004 to 2010 during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

Velasco disclosed that even when Del Mar was admitted in the hospital, he consistently attended virtual plenary sessions and public hearings.

“Never a day in his job was he absent,” he said.

Del Mar, the House speaker said, had a perfect attendance for the 27 years that he was a lawmaker.

“The dedication of Congressman del Mar to public service is truly remarkable and serves as an inspiration to many. We owe him a debt of gratitude. He will be missed,” said Velasco.

House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez also expressed his sympathies to the del Mar’s family, friends and constituents in Cebu City.

“At a ripe age of 79, he never got tired of reporting for work to serve his constituents even at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Romualdez said.

“May your memories as a dedicated public servant—one of Cebu’s best— never be forgotten,” he added, bidding farewell.

On behalf of the Senate, Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri expressed its condolences on the passing of the late Cebu representative. The upper chamber of Congress is set to file a resolution honoring del Mar.

Bills filed

According to the website of the House of Representatives, del Mar was the principal author of at least 51 House bills and the co-author of about 219 bills.

Last 16 October, he filed three more bills proposing the release of the subsidy to low-income families every year on a quarterly basis, provision of subsidy to poverty-stricken families and provision of financial assistance to pregnant women and parents of children aged less than two years old.

He was against the death penalty bill and the recent decision of the House committee on franchises to reject the franchise application of ABS-CBN.

Del Mar, a congressman for nine terms since 1987, is the principal author of the law declaring 21 September as the Cebu Press Freedom Day, a special working holiday in Cebu.

The Visayan lawmaker sought to recognize the role of the media when the Martial law was declared in the Philippines on 21 September 1972, as his father was a journalist and newspaper publisher.

He was also behind the expansion of Republic Act No. 53 or the Sotto Law. The law, previously called the Press Freedom Law, initially covered media workers of newspapers, magazines or periodical general circulation when it was enacted in 1946.

Through the amendment proposed by del Mar, broadcast news reporters, wire agencies and online publications have been covered. This allowed them to never disclose their sources of information.

Other House bills principally authored by del Mar were the bills seeking to strengthen people’s right to information; impose stiffer penalties for child abuse, exploitation and discrimination; increase the salary grade of public teachers from salary grade 11 to 20; and create the Department of Filipinos Overseas and Foreign Employment among others.

Stint

He served as the representative of Cebu’s first district from 1987 until his term expired in 1998 and was later succeeded by his son, Dr. Raoul, for a single term.

In 2001, he won again and held the position for 9 years or until his term expired in 2010. His daughter Rachel “Cutie” succeeded him and served one term until 2013.

Del Mar was reelected and returned to the lower chamber during the 16th Congress in 2013 and had been fulfilling his three-year term in the current 18th Congress.

He was a member of the Cebu-based political party Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan and joined the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino in 2018.

He graduated from University of San Carlos and Ateneo Law School.

Cebu Rep. Raul del Mar attended the House sesion last 13 October when Marinduque Rep. Velasco’s election as House Speaker was ratified in the plenary hall. Photos from Facebook of Rachel del Mar

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