MANILA – The House of Representatives on Monday paid tribute to the late Deputy Speaker Ma. Amelita Calimbas-Villarosa during a necrological service held at the session hall inside the Batasang Pambansa complex in Quezon City.
Villarosa died of aneurysm while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Metro Manila on her 78th birthday on May 30.
Villarosa was the first woman Deputy Speaker of the chamber during the 14th Congress.
She served as the representative of the lone district of Occidental Mindoro in the 11th, 13th, 14th, and 15th Congresses.
In his eulogy, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said Villarosa has advocated for women’s rights and issues, rural electrification, decent housing, environmental protection, animal welfare, hospital emergency care, and public health emergency.
Velasco particularly lauded Villarosa for introducing the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) or the conditional cash transfer program, which is now one of the government’s landmark poverty alleviation and welfare initiatives.
Velasco said Villarosa also pushed to strengthen the institution of the Girls Scouts of the Philippines to empower girls of whatever age.
He also described Villarosa as a “tireless advocate for tourism of her beloved province of Occidental Mindoro,” having helped set up the Apo Reef Natural Park and put Apo Reef, the world’s second-largest contiguous coral reef system and the largest in the country, as a top diving destination in the world.
“A consensus-builder, she coaxed, mentored, and helped lawmakers pass many laws we enjoy today. More importantly, she empowered other women legislators to assert their own voices within these august halls traditionally dominated by strong-willed men.”
Towards the end of the necrological service, Velasco presented to the Villarosa family a legislative memorabilia containing House Resolution No. 182, which the chamber adopted on June 2.
The resolution, which was filed by the Speaker, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, expresses the profound condolences of the House to Villarosa’s family and loved ones.
Romualdez, for his part, described Villarosa as an embodiment of what a Filipino woman should be –” affectionate, yet fearless in expressing her views”, and “loving, yet fiery in aiding the defenseless”.
“We all knew that she lived long enough to fight for what she believed was the right thing to do —to build a better country that protect the rights and promote the welfare of our women, our children, and our less fortunate brothers and sisters,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez said Villarosa was a “trailblazer in Philippine legislation” for crafting laws of national significance when she was part of the majority and even when she was Senior Deputy Minority Leader in the 15th Congress.
“As the first woman Deputy Speaker in Philippine Congress, she single-handedly supervised the Social Services Cluster composed of twelve standing committees in the 14th Congress. That Cluster produced eight laws of national importance and helped steer into approval on Third Reading 617 equally important measures at the end of their term,” Romualdez said.
He said Villarosa steered the enactment into law of vital measures such as the Social Security Condonation Law, the Magna Carta for Women, extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, Access to Cheaper and Quality Medicine, and the Cooperative Code of the Philippines.
He also highlighted the influential role of Villarosa in the passage of the law allowing automated elections in the Philippines as one of her edifying legacies.
“That law authorized Comelec to conduct pilot testing of a Computerized Election System in some provinces in 1998, which eventually paved the way for automated national election in 2010,” Romualdez said. (PNA)