Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ex-Congressman Venancio Garduce dies

MANILA (Mindanao Examiner / Oct. 13, 2011) – Former Filipino lawmaker Venancio Tuazon Garduce has died from a heart attack. He was 80.

The House of Representatives passed a resolution expressing its condolences on the demise of Garduce, who was a leading member of the “progressive bloc” in Congress under President Corazon Aquino.

House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, majority leader Neptali Gonzales II and minority leader Edcel Lagman, sponsored House Resolution 184 condoling with the family of Garduce, who died of cardiopulmonary arrest on Tuesday.

Garduce served as congressman of the second district of Samar from 1987 to 1992. He was one of only three candidates – the other two being Greg Andolana of North Cotabato and guest senatorial bet Wigberto Tañada – from the leftwing Partido ng Bayan, that won in the first elections for the reinstalled legislative establishment with the downfall of the Marcos regime at EDSA 1 in 1986.

He frontlined what would be called interchangeably as the “conscience bloc” or “progressive bloc” in the Lower House under Corazon Aquino that pushed for genuine agrarian reform, scrapping of automatic appropriations for debt service payments and other IMF dictates, removal of U.S. military bases, and other anti-fascist legislation, among others.

Garduce, along with a handful of other congressmen like Andolana, the late Bonifacio Gillego, the late William Claver, Oscar Rodriguez (who is now mayor of San Fernando town in Pampanga province), and now Budget Secretary Butch Abad, would file the first agrarian reform bill after EDSA 1 that drew from the proposal of the peasant coalition Congress for a People’s Agrarian Reform (CPAR), which included the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, the national peasant organization behind the later formation of the party list groups Bayan Muna and Anakpawis.

The House progressive bloc eventually walked out of floor deliberations on the agrarian reform bill, led by (agrarian reform committee chairman) Gillego, when it was watered down and emasculated by amendments from the landlords that predominated Congress as early as then.

As vice-chair of the House human rights committee, Garduce also figured in congressional deliberations on the fast-deteriorating human rights situation in the country under Aquino.

These included inquiries into anti-communist vigilantes, the low-intensity-conflict counterinsurgency strategy deployed by Aquino, and extrajudicial killings both in and out of Metro Manila.

He would even be dragged into controversy when the military revealed that the then urban assassination hit squad Alex Boncayao Brigade was led by Filemon Lagman, the husband of Garduce’s late daughter Lourdes killed in 1979 for organizing peasants against tyranny.

His remains lie in state at the St. Peter’s Memorial Chapels in Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, where they will be cremated on Saturday, October 15. He is survived by his wife Felina, seven sons and daughters and more than a dozen grandchildren.

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