A GREAT Cebuano. Stalwart of democracy. A good public servant.
These are among the many phrases Cebuanos -- officials and civilians alike -- have used to describe Cebu City North District Representative Raul del Mar, who passed away Monday evening, November 16, 2020.
The death of del Mar came as a shock to many, as he was supposed to assume the deputy speaker position in Congress this week. House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, who earlier expressed sympathies, confirmed this in a statement Tuesday, saying del Mar "would have been a deputy speaker" under his term.
Local officials and netizens mourned his passing, some were even thankful for the kind of service del Mar had shown to Cebuanos.
Del Mar, 79, died in a hospital in Manila. The family has not yet issued a statement on his death.
For Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, del Mar was her "very esteemed former colleague in the 16th and 17th Congress when I was then representing the third district of Cebu."
She likened del Mar to her father, former deputy speaker Pablo Garcia.
"Si Rep. Raul del Mar, parehas to sa akong amahan. Di gyud mo absent og session and he would always arrive on time and never leave until mo adjourn. He was that conscientious with his duty mao na nga he was well loved and respected. Duha ka congresses nga nag sugod mi perfect attendance, di gyud mo absent and bisan ug upat nalang nabilin sa session plenary, naa gyud na siya kay maghuwat na nga mo adjourn. He was so active in the discussions, whether in committee level or plenary," she said.
"We have lost a great Cebuano," she added.
Cebu City South District Representative Rodrigo Abellanosa also expressed his condolences and said: "You remain alive in the hearts of the people you have served with all your heart."
"He has done a lot for the people in very meaningful ways. Rest in peace Congressman Raul del Mar, my partner, statesman, public servant. You have toiled more than enough. Perfect attendance for 27 years. Landmark legislations. Non-stop basic services. God will take care of you as you do to our people," he added.
Cebu businessman Richard Yap, who ran against del Mar during the 2019 elections, said the late lawmaker was "a stalwart of democracy and served the people of Cebu City well."
"It is with great sadness that we mark today the passing of a great man, my good friend of many years, Congressman Raul del Mar. He leaves a legacy of leadership and governance that inspires us in public service and makes us Cebuanos deeply proud," said Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella.
He considered del Mar as an "institution" in Cebu City.
"The light our friend Raul shone by his example of public service with empathy and humility will continue to guide us in serving the city we all love," Labella added.
For Cebu City Vice Mayor Mike Rama, del Mar was "one of Cebu’s iconic legislators."
"Besides serving as Cebu City’s North District congressman, he also served as a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in 2004-2010. His longevity in public service and his dedication to the people of the North District has made him a household name," Rama said.
In Talisay City, Mayor Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr. expressed his condolences and said "Cebu lost a great man today."
"A statesman and a public servant in every sense of the word. Rest in Peace Tito Raul. We will all miss you. Cebu will miss you," he said.
Cebu City Councilor Niña Mabatid vowed to continue the good deeds del Mar had done for Cebu City. "You have done more than enough for the Cebuanos. Kong Del Mar di namo pasagdan ang north district nga imong gialagaran sulod sa 27 ka tuig and as a local legislator, we are here to continue the good deeds you have done for Cebu City."
Another councilor, Alvin Dizon, recalled that he and del Mar worked together on various urban poor projects in Cebu City.
"One of these projects was the first socialized medium-rise building for the urban poor in Barangay Lorega which benefited 60 families. The construction of the three-storey condominium project was made possible with the support of Rep. del Mar in partnership with the Cebu City Government, Gawad Kalinga and ANCE. Daghang Salamat, Cong. Raul, sa imong kinasingkasing nga pag-alagad sa mga kabus sa Norte Distrito," Dizon said.
Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board-Central Visayas Regional Director Richie Osmeña, who was also a former Cebu City councilor, said he was saddened by the untimely loss of a "good leader, uncle and second father to me."
He considered the late lawmaker as "the best example of what true leadership was all about."
"You were and are still an inspiration to all, with a health that radiated love and warmth through all our lives. You will truly be missed and forever remembered. Our sincere sympathy to the bereaved family," was the statement of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Del Mar served as the chamber's president from 1982 to 1986.
On social media, netizens also offered their prayers for the late congressman. They thanked del Mar for being a great public servant.
"You're such a great public servant. The legacies that you had left behind will never be forgotten. Condolence to the bereaved family," said Ana Maria Rubi Cabahug in a comment on SunStar Cebu's Facebook post.
Junedel Vocales said: "Condolence to the family. Thank you sir for your service and unconditional love for us, Cebuanos."
For Arlene J. Sususco, Cebu "lost a great public servant."
Webb Racaza has this to say about his departed friend: "Cebu City just lost a very ideal person, a pillar of leadership, honesty and integrity. You are a best friend to keep. May you rest in peace my friend. Memories will stay in our hearts."
Another netizen, Honycler Llagono Ardiente, said he will never forget the good deeds del Mar had done for the youth.
"I was once a grantee of your scholarship and I will never forget that. Thank you for being part of our life. You will always be remembered," he said.
"To our beloved congressman who served Cebu like his own family, it's shocking to know that you have already joined our Creator in Heaven...The people would mourn over your departure great public servant," said Angel Joaquino.
Raffy Dela Peña Prangis also thanked del Mar, saying: "We owe so much from you for your efforts in facilitating the proclamation and subsequent awarding of the lot we are currently occupying. We deeply mourn for your untimely demise."
Netizen Kate Alinsug Anusuriya said the lawmaker had served Cebu City well.
"Thank you for your service Cong. RIP. You have served Cebu City well through the years. Bisan dili mi taga Cebu City pero naka enjoy mi sa tanan nimong projects," she said.
Del Mar was the one who introduced flyovers in Cebu City streets and even pushed for modern transportation options for Cebuanos, including the Bus Rapid Transit project.
He also authored several legislation, including special economic zone in Cebu, increasing the salaries of public school teachers and the police and those creating the Cebu Port Authority, the Mactan International Airport Authority and the Mega Cabu Development Authority, among others. (LMY)