Fond remembrances Jovy Salonga left
If he were alive today, the Filipino people—especially the public school teachers—would be observing and celebrating the 96th birthday of former Senate president Jovito “Jovy” Salonga who was born on June 22, 1920, in what was then referred to as Pasig, Rizal.
A leader of proven honesty, integrity and probity, Senator Salonga was a versatile man—lawmaker, educator, author, graft-buster, preacher, lawyer, orator, debater, parliamentarian, law professor, civic leader, moral crusader, reformist, nationalist and many more.
Widely regarded as a statesman and patriot, teachers considered him their sincere friend and staunch defender. In particular, Salonga will always be remembered by the teachers as the author and principal sponsor of a very important piece of legislation that immensely benefited and still benefits them even now.
Republic Act No. 4670, more popularly known as the Magna Carta for Public School Teachers, underscores the teachers’ rights and freedoms, and enumerates and explains the economic benefits that must accrue to them. Enacted in 1966, RA 4670 serves as basis when teachers clamor for benefits and assert their rights as professionals and civil servants who have for so long been downtrodden and underpaid though overworked.
The Filipino people, recognizing Salonga’s outstanding track record as a public official and his clean image and enviable reputation as a private citizen, elected him topnotcher in three senatorial elections (1965, 1971 and 1987), a record achievement which is unequaled and unsurpassed in Philippine history.
On a personal note, I always remember Senator Salonga for providing me the legal services of his law office, pro bono, when I was haled to court for leading the very first teachers’ strike, euphemistically called mass leave of absence, on Oct. 15-17, 1969, to demand cost-of-living allowance, as provided for in Section 17 of RA 4670.
Likewise, I always treasure the days when I joined the campaign for the nonratification of the controversial 1973 Constitution, notoriously known as the “Marcos Constitution,” during the martial law regime. The campaign was led by senators Salonga, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. (although he was imprisoned in an isolation cell then), Eva Estrada Kalaw, Lorenzo M. Tañada, Gerardo “Gerry” Roxas and Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo; lawyer Rosario “Charito” Planas and Jose Mari Velez; Justice Jesus Barrera; Rev. Fr. Pacifico Ortiz; Tarlac Rep. Jose “Apeng” Yap and other opposition leaders during the period of dictatorship.
For writing the foreword for my book, “Teacher Power,” and for attending its launching on Dec. 16, 2005, at the Quezon Memorial Circle in Diliman, Quezon City, as the guest of honor and speaker, I will forever acknowledge the senator’s concern and kindness.
Mananatili kang buhay sa alaala ng sambayanang Pilipino, lalung-lalo ng mga guro. Mabuhay ka Senador Salonga!
—EUSEBIO S. SAN DIEGO, founder, Kaguro and former president, Quezon City Public School Teachers Association, [email protected]
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