MANILA - (UPDATED) Lawmakers paid tribute to former senator Edgardo Angara who passed away Sunday at the age of 83.
Senators lauded Angara's work as a lawmaker, particularly his work on education and his dedication to public service.
"Sen. Ed will always be remembered as a trailblazer in education reform. The visionary laws he championed during his 23 years as senator -- such as the Free Public Education Act of 1988 and the charters of CHED and TESDA -- revolutionized our education system by opening up exciting new learning opportunities for millions of underprivileged Filipinos whose right to education had long been neglected," Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said in a statement.
"Today is truly a sad day for the Philippine Senate and I am honored to have had a chance to have served with such a distinguished public servant," added Senator Migz Zubiri, who referred to Angara as his "adopted father and mentor" in the Senate.
Senator Loren Legarda also remembered her "dear friend."
"We lost a great man, a visionary, an indefatigable worker, esteemed public servant, deep thinker, and one of the PHL's most brilliant minds, a dear friend. Ed, may you rest in peace," she said.
"We mourn the loss of an excellent lawyer, dedicated educator, esteemed former colleague in the Senate and patriot," Senator Francis Escudero also said.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, who was once chairman of the University of the Philippines (UP) Student Council, remembered his first encounter with Angara as members of the UP Board of Regents in 1986.
"He was UP president and I was chairman of the UP Student Council," he said.
"Little did we know that 15 years later, we would be colleagues in the Senate, pushing for causes we believed would better our country and the lives of our countrymen. One law we worked together on was the Judiciary Compensation and Modernization Act, which increased the judges’ pay in order to fill the many vacancies in the judiciary and consequently speed up the wheels of justice," Pangilinan added.
Former president and Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, likewise, paid tribute to Angara.
I would like to personally convey my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family of former Senate President Edgardo Angara. He was a true leader who instituted reforms for the betterment of the country. Most importantly, he was a friend who I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with.
May his courage and leadership continue to inspire others. He will be missed but his valuable contributions to the country will never be forgotten," she said.
Senator Vicente Sotto III also reminisced his time with "Edja."
"I'm so saddened by his passing. Edja was one of my mentors and LDP partymate. We campaigned together in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2007. I'll never forget the times he would challenge me to debate Sen. Joker (Arroyo) almost everytime Joker rises," he said.
"Sen. Ed distinguished himself in his decades-long service to our kababayans and our country: president of the University of the Philippines System, Executive Secretary, a four-term senator, and Special Envoy to the European Union. Nakikiramay at nakikidalamhati ako sa pamilyang Angara, lalung-lalo na kay Sen. Sonny. My thoughts and sympathies are with you in this sad day," Senator Nancy Binay said.
Senate President Koko Pimentel also shared his message for Angara and his family.
"It is difficult to quantify the contributions of one of the giants responsible for nurturing democracy in the years following the EDSA Revolution. Our institutions are the product of the hard work and brilliance of Senator Angara and the leaders of his generation, and millions of our countrymen are beneficiaries of his belief in the power of education to improve lives and drive national development," he said.
"Senator Angara was an educator, lawyer, and legislator with few peers; leaders of his caliber are a rare breed, and getting rarer still, and he will truly be missed," Pimentel added.
Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano joined the nation in paying tribute to Angara.
"Senate President Angara had deep ties with the Department during his long and storied career in the Senate, most notably when he served as chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 1997 to 1998. For a brief time, Senate President Angara was with us in the Foreign Service as Special Envoy to the European Union. His discussions with European parliamentarians played an important role in preserving our GSP+ status with the European Union, providing special status for our exporters of designated products. Being instrumental in the designation of June 30 as Philipine-Spanish Friendship Day, Senate President Angara was a tireless advocate for the preservation and appreciation of our Hispanic legacy as an essential element of Filipino history and culture," Cayetano said in a statement.
He also reminisced his time with "Tito Ed," a family friend of the Cayetanos.
"On a personal note, I grew up with Tito Ed and his family. We Cayetanos share fond memories and life lessons from our experience together with the Angaras," Cayetano added.
Angara's public life began when he became a delegate in the 1971 Constitutional Convention, where he authored constitutional provisions such as the protection of public domain from undue exploitation by developers.
He was a senator from 1987 to 1998, serving as Senate president from 1993 until 1995.
On May 2017, he was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the country’s special envoy to the European Union.