From Palawan to Bicol’s Sonny, a grateful goodbye | Inquirer Opinion

From Palawan to Bicol’s Sonny, a grateful goodbye

/ 09:56 PM August 23, 2012

Although a Bicolano, Rep. Sonny Escudero was a Palaweño at heart. This I realized when he and I were colleagues in the House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995. I was the representative of the first district of Palawan and he of Sorsogon.

In 1987, faced with the problem of struggling barangay high schools in Palawan, Speaker Ramon Mitra and I met with Sonny who was the chair of the House Committee on Education; and we got him to expedite the approval of our barangay high school nationalization bills. Sonny shepherded our bills to final approval and we got 30 new “nationalized” high schools, including the Palawan Integrated National High School System. In 1989, Sonny sponsored the free secondary education act nationalizing all the country’s barangay high schools.

In 1993, my second district colleague Rep. Amor Abueg and I filed a bill creating the Palawan State University. During the education committee’s first meeting, Chair Sonny assured the proponents of the state university that his committee would approve deserving bills, reminding us, however, of the one-state-university-per-region policy. We had to work fast; for Region 4, eight other conversion bills were pending.

Representative Sonny intimated to me and Representative Abueg that a presidential endorsement would be a big help to our bill. Coincidentally, President Fidel V. Ramos was to visit Palawan. We managed to join him, and before our flight was over, his certification was on our bill. That facilitated the creation of the Palawan State University which also mandated the establishment of a petroleum institute, a proposal of mine that Sonny encouraged. Graduates of the institute, a leading program of the university, are now in the petroleum industry. Sonny’s tip for a presidential certification was indeed a big help, but truthfully our bill was inappropriate for a presidential certification not being an urgent matter of national concern.


Sonny was diligent at work but I remember him too for his wit, a brilliant display of which occurred during a session day, right after the 1988 local elections. A Mindanao lawmaker was tasked to deliver the day’s invocation, which turned out to be an attack against another Mindanao colleague. After the roll call, the offended lawmaker rose, bitterly complaining. “Mr. Speaker,” he said, “I denounce the attack against me through the prayer. Perhaps she is afraid of my interpellation, that’s why she used the prayer.” He then answered the “prayer” point by point.

At this juncture, Sonny rose and spoke, “Mr. Speaker, in my 44 years of existence, this is the first prayer I know that was immediately answered.” His remarks brought the House down.

Being ill at the moment, I missed paying him my last respects. Nevertheless, the memory of this man who loved our province as his own will forever be with us.


Puerto Princesa City

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

TAGS: letters, rep. sonny escudero

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.