Raul Del Mar, a gem of a public servant

BAR NONE - Atty. Ian Vincent Manticajon (The Freeman) - November 21, 2020 - 12:00am

I had always looked up to my late father as a good judge of character. The few friends he kept were an inspiration to us six siblings growing up. Allow me to mention Tito Jun Muntuerto, a great lawyer and close friend of the family, who to this day has always been there with us during somber and happy occasions.

Another inspiring character in my childhood was surprisingly a politician, who was not even personally known to the family. He was Cebu City North District Rep. Raul del Mar. He died at the age of 79, Monday night, November 16, at a hospital in Manila where he had been attending virtual sessions of the House of Representatives.

As I remember Del Mar, I remember my father who actively campaigned for him. You see, my father was not the type who socialized with politicians or mingled with them either as a follower or an associate. He valued his independence too much and liked being able to afford to choose the company he keeps.

But to my curious surprise one day in 1987, he actively campaigned for Del Mar when the latter first ran for the position of congressman of Cebu City North District. I still don’t know up to this day how my father got acquainted with Del Mar, but I do remember him plastering at the back of his utility van a large campaign poster of the soon-to-be congressman.

As I grew up into adulthood, my curiosity about that rare endorsement was sated. Rep. Raul Del Mar’s performance as a public servant for 27 years exceeded the expectations of his constituents. In a city district dominated by independent voters who are not beholden to patronage nor easily swayed by favors, Del Mar was always the choice of the majority of voters.

He represented Cebu City’s North District for nine terms, beginning in 1987 when the new constitution post-EDSA paved the way for the two houses of Congress to reopen. He served as deputy speaker for two terms from 2004 to 2010, according to Philstar.com. He would have been deputy speaker again under the term of House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco. He is remembered as a lawmaker who was never absent. Reports state that he was even attending plenary sessions and public hearings virtually while in the hospital.


In a statement, Speaker Velasco lauded the dedication of Congressman Del Mar to public service as truly remarkable and which serves as an inspiration to many. “We owe him a debt of gratitude. He will be missed,” Velasco said.

In an editorial, The FREEMAN described Del Mar as down-to-earth and humble despite his high position. “He was never flashy or showy, and shunned scandalous behavior. Del Mar was one of a kind, and we refer to that kind of politician that is rapidly disappearing from public service.”

He was still able to file last month three bills that seek to help poor families especially in this time of crisis. The first one was House Bill No. 7899 which seeks to institutionalize the Social Amelioration Program. The second bill was House Bill No. 7900 which proposes a monthly cash subsidy to families suffering from severe hunger. The third measure, House Bill No. 7901, seeks to prevent the stunting of children.

I got the chance to meet Del Mar only once. That was during the inauguration many years ago of the upgraded newsroom and broadcast laboratories of the UP Cebu Mass Communication program. He was instrumental in sourcing funds for the upgrade of the laboratories.

In a statement, the Cebu Citizens-Press Council remembers Del Mar as author of the Cebu Press Freedom Day law (Republic Act No. 11122) and expanded Sotto law (Republic Act 114581) which exempts specified journalists from revealing the source of their news except when security of the state is involved or Congress compels the disclosure.

“A son of a journalist and manager of a local newspaper for a number of years, he had the media worker’s welfare at heart, helping the collective effort of media and citizens to have a free but responsible press in Cebu and improve the craft of journalists,” the CCPC said.

Cebuanos from all political persuasions will miss Del Mar, a statesman and great public servant. I’m sure my father, who went ahead to the other dimension four years ago, will still be his ardent campaigner there.


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