Raul A. Daza, forever a Liberal
In our democracy, the most prominent and visible fixture of the political system is the “butterfly.”
What is a butterfly?
Butterflies are beautiful flying insects with brightly colored wings. Like all insects, they have six-jointed legs, three body parts (head, chest and abdomen), a pair of antennae and compound eyes. They feed primarily on nectar from flowers.
Butterflies are very good fliers. They have two pairs of wings covered with colorful, iridescent scales. Veins support the delicate wings and nourish them with blood.
Butterflies can’t fly if their body temperature is less than 30 degrees Celsius. The fastest one can fly at about 30 miles per hour, while the slow ones move at about 5 miles per hour.
In our system, the “political butterflies” are not necessarily beautiful and are equipped with retractable wings, two legs, two arms and a very sensitive antenna. They are adept at
sensing shifting winds and even before election results are
officially announced, they can fly at maximum speed toward the flower with the sweetest fragrance. Some may be a
bit slower, depending on the incentives that are being
offered, but eventually they move to the dominant attraction, particularly when their vital interests require protection
Raul Daza and I were classmates at UP High in Diliman, Quezon City. We graduated in 1951 along with Betty Go Belmonte, the wife of former speaker Sonny Belmonte, and Cesar Ignacio who joined me at the Philippine Military Academy.
Raul was one of the bright stars of the class — senate president of the UP High student government and awardee of the leadership medal on graduation.
After high school, Raul went on to the UP College of Law, graduating cum laude and placing 11th in the bar exams. He is
also a certified public accountant (CPA), having finished business administration at the University of the East, also cum laude.
What I didn’t know was that Raul was a boxing enthusiast, aside from his love for law. He raised a stable of boxers, and
was a professional boxing promoter with the brand name Diamond Stable.
Sometime in 1966 or 1967, while assigned at the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization headquarters in Bangkok, I received a call from the airport. It was Raul who informed me that he was bringing in a boxer to fight in a scheduled bout at Lumpinee Stadium, one of Bangkok’s sports facilities. We got together and on fight night, I served as his assistant at the ring, since he did not have anyone with him. Unfortunately, our boy got knocked out in the first round, and so we had to quickly exit from the arena to the threatening jeers and catcalls of a disappointed crowd that was expecting a good fight.
Incidentally, one of his boxers, Guido Yosalina of Don Carlos, Bukidnon, recently marked his 75th birthday. Unlike other boxers Guido saved his money and went on to become a rich farmer and respected businessman of the community.
In 1969, Raul was elected representative of the lone district
of Northern Samar, the sole Liberal from Eastern Visayas
which had a total of seven congressional districts. As a member of the Seventh Congress, Raul noted that in the House
there were 110 members — 93 Nacionalistas, and 17 Liberals.
The speaker was Jose Laurel of Batangas. The 24-member Senate was composed of 18 Nacionalistas, 5 Liberals, and one from the Nationalist Citizens’ Party (Lorenzo Tañada). The Senate president was Gil Puyat.
After the violence and casualties of the First Quarter Storm involving students demonstrating against the government, the Liberal Party took an official stand and it was Raul who was tasked to articulate it on the floor of the House.
Raul outlined the party stand. “We believe that student demonstrations are a valid form of protest, protected by guarantees found in the Constitution. It is unfortunate however, that in some cases the incidents have ended up in violent riots and in the death of several young students. We mourn their deaths. . . . We deplore unnecessary violence. We must condemn the lawless enforcement of the law, specifically the sadistic brutality that destroys the worth and dignity of the human being which after all, is the supreme value of a free society.”
In the 1971 elections that followed, the Liberals won six of the eight contested Senate seats, the mayoralty of Manila, and many of the governorships. It became a foregone conclusion that the next general elections in November 1973 would bring about a Liberal president and a Liberal administration. Future events would overturn this conclusion.
Raul left for the United States in 1973. He became a member of the State Bar of California and later passed the California CPA exams. He is believed to be the first Filipino to pass both law and CPA exams of California without any formal education in the United States.
Raul returned to the Philippines in 1985 and was arrested.
After the Edsa Revolution, he reentered politics and served the maximum three consecutive terms in the House of Representatives. Elected governor of Northern Samar in 2001, he also served the maximum three terms as provincial chief executive. In 2016, he joined the 17th Congress as representative of the first district of Northern Samar.
If one includes his election in 1969, Raul is the longest-serving representative of the 17th Congress. In the current House and Senate, he is the only one who served as a legislator during the pre-martial law years. He has been a member of the Liberal Party since 1965 and was party president from 1994-1998.
In good times and bad, Raul has never left the Liberal Party nor has he joined coalitions in support of the party in power. He now serves as a member of the House group known as the
“Magnificent 7” that includes Edcel Lagman, Teddy Baguilat, Edgar Erice, Emmanuel Billones, all Liberals along with Tom
Villarin of Akbayan, and Gary Alejano of Magdalo.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.