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MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE - 4:28 p.m.) Sorsogon Rep. Salvador 'Sonny' Escudero III, father of Sen. Francis Escudero, passed away 3:30 a.m. Monday, and was hailed as an advocate for agriculture and education.
The Department of Education (DepEd) dubbed him an "education champion". The DepEd is honoring the late lawmaker and former agriculture secretary by having the flag at its Central Office in Pasig city at half-mast.
Deped Secretary Armin Luistro said that Escudero's consistency, determination, and unwavering support to push for "reforms and make Philippine education step up to international standards" continue to be a source of inspiration for many education workers.
Escudero had chaired the committee on basic education. Inspite of his condition he was seen attending - in a wheelchair - the joint hearing of the House committee on basic education and the committee on higher education on Kindergarten to 12 program in June.
"An ideal education advocate, he matches his cause with prodigious research, untiring legislative work as well as generous sharing of his well- rounded knowledge on education issues," the statement added.
Also champion of agriculture
Escudero, served as agriculture minister during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, and hosted an agriculture show at dzRH.
On his second term at the House of Representatives at the time of his death, Escudero was chairman of the House Basic Education Committee.
He had been suffering and fighting colon cancer for a little over two years. He died in his sleep, at the age of 69.
Wake will be held at Mt. Carmel Church at Broadway corner 5th Street, New Manila, Quezon City starting Monday evening. He will be brought to the Batasan building for necrological services at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.
His remains will be flown to his home province in Sorsogon on Thursday, and will return to Manila Saturday or Sunday to be cremated.
Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II said Escudero will be a big loss to the chamber, calling him one of the hardest-working members of the House.
Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said Escudero led a “colorful career marked by countless significant legislative contributions particularly in the area of education and agriculture.”
“Despite battling cancer for the past years, Sonny has shown utmost dedication to public service worthy of emulation by all of us who serve in government. To the end he has religiously attended sessions and committee hearings, actively participating despite being in a wheelchair, and committed to his role as Chairman of the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture,” Belmonte added.
On his second term at the House of Representatives at the time of his death, Escudero was chairman of the House Basic Education Committee. He started his political career in the legislature in the 1980s.
Escudero was also a Dean of the UP College of Veterinary Medicine in Los Baños in the past, having himself earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in veterinary medicine. He was one of the principal authors of the landmark law, Philippine Animal Welfare Act.
The amendments to the Flag and Heraldic Code was one of his latest bills that became a law. During the 15th Congress, he also authored a resolution calling for burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos to the Libingan ng mga Bayani, a measure supported by more than 100 congressmen, but did not move at the committee level.
In the 15th Congress from July 2010 to August 2012, Escudero was one of the prolific lawmakers, having a total of seven bills that he authored and co-authored, which became laws.
In a resolution, the Senate called Escudero “a dedicated and committed lawmaker, who…continued to serve the interest of the people in spite of his frail condition during the past years.”
The Senate noted that “Rep. Escudero sponsored amendments to the Local Government Code to further empower local government units, pushed for the automatic promotion to one rank higher of government officials and employees upon retirement from government service and advocated for the restoration in our statutes of the criminal liability of a person under 18 years of age.”
Escudero's death, the Senate said, “is not only a great loss to his family and constituents but to the nation as well.”