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.
Malacañang, through Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, mourned the passing of the lawmaker and extended its deep sympathies and condolences to his family and loved ones.
“His commitment to his work as the representative of one of Cebu City’s districts will be remembered by the constituents he served during his tenure, particularly the underprivileged, as we remain affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Andanar said in a statement.
“He has done much to serve and help the growth and development of his district on matters of infrastructures, social services, and poverty alleviation,” he added.
Being the son of a journalist and a manager of a local newspaper, Del Mar’s dedication to promote and improve a free yet responsible journalism and media landscape, according to Del Mar, is truly worth noting, which led to people hailing him as “Kampeon sa Medya.”
Del Mar served as Deputy Speaker under former House Speaker Jose de Venecia from 2004 to 2010 during the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.
Chief presidential Legal Counsel Atty. Salvador Panelo likewise extended his condolences.
During his program “Counterpoint” aired over government station People’s Television 4 (PTV-4), Panelo paid tribute to Del Mar whom he described as a very humble and friendly person. He also said that the Del Mar is also known for his dancing skills.
Speaker Velasco disclosed that even when Del Mar was admitted to 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,” Velasco said.
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.
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 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.