Biazon gets final salute as soldier & statesman who answered call of duty

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Biazon gets final salute as soldier & statesman who answered call of duty
Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Rodolfo "Pong" Biazon waves to the crowd during a parade at the PMA Alumni Homecoming held in Fort del Pilar, Baguio City on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019.
Philippine News Agency / Joey O. Razon

MANILA, Philippines — Rodolfo Biazon wore two hats in his lifetime, and those mourning his death, which fell on Independence Day, remembered him as a “true patriot” who served the country as both soldier and statesman.

Government officials and ranking lawmakers have expressed their condolences to the family of Biazon, who passed away after a bout of pneumonia Monday morning, as confirmed by his son, Muntinlupa Mayor Ruffy Biazon. He was 88.

The Department of National Defense hailed Biazon’s illustrious career as both military man and public servant, saying his life was a “legacy worth emulating.” 

“Throughout his decades-long service to the Filipino nation, Sen. Biazon embodied patriotism, integrity, and commitment to the protection of the country's freedom and its democratic institutions,” the DND said.

The late Biazon climbed the ranks within the military establishment until he was appointed AFP chief in January 1991 and served for three months. 

Biazon also served in the Senate from 1992 to 1995 and again from 1998 until 2010. He last served as Muntilupa representative from 2010 to 2016.

Biazon: Tactical and strategic 

Forged in the crucible of military service, Biazon’s experiences as a ranking AFP officer also shaped his work as a legislator.

Biazon “used his brilliant, strategic and tactical mind and straightforward personality to convince Congress to pass landmark legislation,” such as the AFP Modernization Act and the Comprehensive and Integrated Shelter Finance Act among others, said Rep. Raul Tupas (Iloilo, 5th District), House national defense and security committee chair.

Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, who worked with Biazon during the 13th and 14th Congress, said that he witnessed "firsthand" his "unparalleled passion for public service and unwavering advocacy for low-cost housing and increased benefits for our soldiers." 

Senate President Miguel Zubiri also said that it was a “gift” to be a “novice senator” when Biazon was still in office. “He brought that same military discipline and commitment to his work in the Senate, and to every aspect of his life as a public servant,” Zubiri added.

Even after stepping out of the political limelight, Biazon “always answered the call of duty even when he was no longer in office,” Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.

“Time and again, when he saw that our nation was in peril, he stepped out from his private life and gave us public servants clarity and a sense of direction,” Hontiveros said.

At the height of the country’s diplomatic tensions with China over its incursions in the West Philippine Sea under the Duterte administration, Biazon called on the government “to take a united position against China,” Hontiveros said.

Biazon or Sen. Pong, to his colleagues, was also a staunch supporter of the Reproductive Health Law and a “steady source of strength” for women and women’s advocates.

"Regarded as macho due to his military background, he challenged stereotypes to stand not just for, but with women,” Hontiveros said. 

But the life Biazon led as a multi-awarded military official came after years of gritting through poverty, said House Speaker Martin Romualdez.

"He lost his father at seven years old and was forced to work to provide for himself and his siblings at such a young age. Poverty did not faze him; with sheer determination, he put himself through school to gain the education that he needed to be somebody,” Romualdez said.

“In the end, he became somebody that (we) would look up to," said the Speaker. 

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