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The consummate public servant

Aquilino Pimentel Jr.

IT is said that power generally overwhelms the better instincts of man.

Not the Ed Angara I knew.

Despite the enormous powers that he had access to or that he enjoyed especially during the early Martial Law Years, he remained a person with balanced human perspectives.

For instance, he had perks to savor.

But, he tried to share them with others less privileged.

I know because even if he was aware that during the Martial Law years  I was in the opposite camp, he tried to share with me the material blessings he enjoyed.

Which, incidentally, I had to turn down because – from my narrower perspectives – I just didn’t want “utang na loob,” among other things, to hamper the cause I was, then, espousing.

That said, aside from the enumerable things that Ed has done for his friends, acquaintances and supporters, his whole-hearted dedication to the cause of education emerges as his unique contribution to the welfare of our people.

There, in the field of education, I submit, Ed’s track record as a public servant stands out over the heads of his peers.

I won’t mention all the laws that Ed sponsored in the course of his public life.

I will limit my inputs here, to only some of the laws into which Ed put his heart, soul, mind and spirit: the creation of the Commission on Higher Education; the organization of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority;  the enactment of the Free High School Act, and the passage of the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education (Gastpe), which, incidentally, is said to be the biggest scholarship program of the nation.

And what was the underlying message that Ed wanted our people to know about those knowledge-sharing espousals of his?

I suggest that Ed wanted our people to realize that education is “the key to upward mobility” that will, inevitably, lead to the expansion of the horizons of anyone’s service and relevance to the nation.

I guess Ed wanted all our citizens  – and especially the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized – to realize that to extricate themselves from the clutches of poverty – they must have access to and  make use of education.

For once they are freed from the dehumanizing effects of that miserable degradation, they would also, then, be in a position to help others enjoy fuller lives befitting human beings.

As I close this tribute to Ed, may I suggest that differing opinions invariably bedevil the reputations of public servants.

Divergent views, in my opinion, are a part of the democratic dialogue this country has to go through in our search for a better tomorrow.

So, right or wrong, we just have to bear the contrary views as they come our way, rebut them as best we can, and let history do the rest.

As for you, dear Brother Ed, your focus on knowledge-sharing – that enables even the deprived sectors of our society to have the means to cut themselves free from the bondage of ignorance – has already defined your rightful place in the pages of our history.

To you, then, my dear colleague, and to Glo, your dutiful wife, and especially to Senator Sonny, who is following your formidable footprints in this August Chamber, and to the rest of your family, we express our personal gratitude for the privilege of knowing you, and of learning from you the invaluable, irreplaceable and peerless contribution that education gives to our people.

With your singular devotion to spread the cause of learning among all our peoples, Lumads, Muslims, and Christians, we can now  truly begin to relish  the beneficent  blessings of law and order, peace and development in this our beloved democratic Republic.

God rest you, dear Ed.

 

(Eulogy for a friend and colleague delivered by former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. at the Senate yesterday.)

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