Former and current members of the Philippine Senate paid their last respects to former senator and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief-of-Staff Rodolfo “Pong” Biazon in a necrological service held recently.
Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda led the chamber’s arrival honors for Biazon, who, after his three-decade military service, served in the upper chamber during the Ninth Congress (1992-1995), and from the 11th Congress until the 14th Congress (1998-2010).
Biazon passed away on Independence Day, June 12, after battling lung cancer. He was 88.
“With all that Sen. Pong Biazon has accomplished in this earthly life, it is undeniable that he is an inspirational man – his unwavering determination is unmatched. Sen. Biazon had achieved greatness despite the obstacles he faced throughout his life,” former Senate President Vicente Sotto III said in his eulogy.
“A family man, an excellent soldier, an extraordinary legislator, freedom fighter, and defender of democracy – who relished his life to the fullest. But above all his accomplishments, he will be most remembered as a good father, loving husband, and a dear friend,” Sotto said as he shared his fond memories of Biazon.
Former Sen. Jose Lina, Jr. remembered Biazon’s “humility, simplicity and decorum,” praising the late statesman for his “eagerness to learn new things” despite his numerous accomplishments.
Former Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, meanwhile, enumerated the lessons he learned from his “Manong Pong”, even as he shared their differences.
“When ordinary, imperfect men, together, dream, pray, work hard and sacrifice to build a strong, sovereign nation for the next generation, they all become heroes,”
“Rodolfo Gaspar Biazon, Tatang, Manong Pong, walked the talk and showed by living example that when ordinary, imperfect men, together, dream, pray, work hard and sacrifice to build a strong, sovereign nation for the next generation, they all become heroes,” Honasan said in saluting his military senior.
For his part, former Senate President Franklin Drilon recalled how Biazon, a former colleague in both the Cabinet and the Senate, took pride in becoming a superintendent of the Philippine Military Academy in 1986, saying the former general played a “very critical” role in molding today’s soldiers and leaders.
Drilon also remembered Biazon as an eagle-eyed and dedicated lawmaker.
“To him, every little bit which could erode the dignity of his beloved Philippines was worth his time to be able to bring up to the floor of the Senate,” he added.
“They say that old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”
“They say that old soldiers never die, they just fade away. Pong, you may have physically left us, but your patriotism, your love for country, your dedication to public service will never fade away,” Drilon told his “good friend.”
In his message, Senate President Migz Zubiri cited Biazon’s “extraordinary life and legacy.”
“It is not quite enough to say that he wore many hats – as a marine, as a chief of the Armed Forces, as a congressman, as a senator. He didn’t just wear these hats, rather, he lived his entire life embodying the very essence of these roles and being a public servant par excellence,” Zubiri, who is currently on official mission in Washington, D.C, said.
Zubiri also recalled how Biazon, as a mentor, was “always very gracious with his guidance” when he started in the Senate under the 14th Congress.
“He dedicated himself so completely to his work, to our people, and to our country, not just because his job called for him to do so, but simply because he so fiercely loved our country and our people,” the veteran legislator added.
“That is how I will always remember him: An absolute patriot, on and off the battlefield,” the seasoned lawmaker continued.
Legarda, for her part, thanked Biazon for supporting her advocacies on climate change, disaster risk reduction, and national security and defense.
“He will always be one of the pillars of Philippine defense and security, who fought for peace and democracy. His selfless service and unwavering commitment to this cause make him stand out as an inspiration to many,” the veteran legislator said in her eulogy.
Majority Leader Joel Villanueva also expressed his condolences and sympathies with Biazon’s family as he enumerated the late senator’s contributions to the country.
“The true honor we can give this great man is to carry on his legacies, especially on issues close to his heart, like national defense and security, housing, good governance and education, among others,” Villanueva stressed.
Having worked with Biazon during the 13th and 14th Congresses, Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada said he will remember his former colleague as “intimidating, forceful and inspiring.”
“He was a man of forceful character, possessing considerable insight and diplomatic skills,” Estrada recalled. “Beyond the titles and the accolades, he was a true servant of the people.”
Senator Robin Padilla also took to the plenary to share his conversations with Biazon during his stint as an actor. Padilla also cited the former general’s contributions in bringing peace to Mindanao.
Also attending the necrological service were Senate Minority Koko Pimentel III, Senators Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, JV Ejercito, Bong Go, Risa Hontiveros, and Mark Villar; as well as former Senators Nikki Coseteng, Dick Gordon, Ramon B. Magsaysay Jr., Orly Mercado, Kit Tatad and former Vice President Noli De Castro.
As a senator, Biazon was known for advocating low-cost housing and measures benefitting the country’s soldiers.
The veteran legislator authored the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003, Rental Reform Act of 2002, Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Finance Act, the An Act Providing for the Modernization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Mandatory Pag-ibig Membership Act, among other notable laws.
A Senate resolution was presented to Biazon’s family to honor the former statesman’s life and service to the country.
“The family has nothing but the most sincere appreciation for the senators who have given their testimony in this august chamber, in praise of a man who dedicated his productive years to serving the Filipino people,” Muntinlupa Mayor Ruffy Biazon, Biazon’s son, said.