By Dr. Jun Ynares, M.D.
Last Sunday, we wrote about Antipolo City’s offer to host the permanent site of the Philippine Senate.
Our senators, led by Senator Panfilo Lacson, Jr., chairman of the Senate Committee on Accounts, have revived the 10-year search for a place to build a home for the Upper House. Two possibilities were earlier mentioned: Fort Bonifacio in the southern end of Metro Manila, and Clark Green City in Central Luzon. Antipolo City joined the bid and became the third option.
We mentioned that we shared with our senators three compelling reasons why they should choose Antipolo as the site for the Senate’s permanent home.
The compelling reasons are economic, historical, and strategic in nature.
Last week, we expounded on the compelling economic reasons. We said that Antipoleños have set aside a significant, sprawling portion of the city’s government center in Cabading for the Senate’s permanent home.
We are giving the site to the Senate… for free.
This would spare the Senate from having to shell out P1.44 billion it is planning to spend for the purchase of a piece of land that will house the permanent home.
In addition, we mentioned that – by choosing Antipolo – our senators would be opening up rapid economic development opportunities for the eastern and southern growth corridors of Luzon. We expressed hope that the Senate would use its “economic magnet” power to spur economic growth in less-developed parts of Luzon.
Tomorrow, our country will celebrate our 119th Independence Day. Therefore, we would like to share with our readers the compelling historical reason as to why Antipolo is worth considering as the site of the Philippine Senate’s permanent home.
Now, a little bit of history.
Antipolo is a component city of the Province of Rizal. Before there was a Rizal province, Antipolo was part of the so-called Politico-Militar Distrito de Morong.
Yes, it is that “Province of Morong” which “owns” one of the rays in the sun of the Philippine flag. Reason: the then-Morong province of which Antipolo was a part was one of the first provinces in the country to rise against the colonial power which had us under foreign rule for centuries.
For a time, Antipolo was the capital of Morong Province. Antipolo was the scene of many skirmishes between the soldiers of the colonial government and our revolutionary forces. At one point during the revolution Antipolo served as the capital of the revolutionary forces.
Should our senators opt to make Antipolo City the permanent home of the Upper House, they would be building that home in a place which has figured prominently in our country’s history of nationalism and patriotism. A decision in favor of Antipolo City would be a major recognition that stands to be accorded by our senators to its role in our history.
One more bit of history.
Antipolo is part and parcel, too, of the unfolding history of the country’s legislature.
The fact is that in the roster of senators are two outstanding Antipoleños.
The first is Juan Sumulong who served in the Philippine Senate during the American rule, from 1925 to 1931. He is also remembered as the fierce fiscalizer who fought against the early versions of the “pork barrel” and who challenged President Manuel Quezon in the first presidential elections in the country.
The second is Lorenzo Sumulong who served in the Philippine Senate for a record 21 years. He is best remembered as the fearless orator who, on the floor of the United Nations, confronted Russia and who caused Russian leader Kruschev to lose his cool and pound his shoes on his desk – right there at the session hall of the UN.
The two senators served their country well. By choosing Antipolo as the site of the Senates’ permanent home, our senators would be honoring the memory of two of the finest Filipinos who served in the institution to which they belong today.
By the way, the proposed site is at an elevated portion of Antipolo. On a clear day, one might see from there the hills of Rodriguez, Rizal, formerly called the town of Montalban.
That town was named after Eulogio Rodriguez, Sr., known in the history of the Philippine Senate as the great “Amang.”
Amang Rodriguez was elected senator in 1941. He became Senate president in 1953 and stayed in that post for the next 10 years.
It is said that the history of Philippine politics would not be complete without the mention of the role that Amang Rodriguez played. He is remembered for having championed many pieces of legislation that favored the common man.
It would delight his memory if the institution he served for a solid decade would build its home in a city proximate to his hometown, and in the province he once served as governor.
There is one more historical reason left.
It is this: building the permanent home of the Philippine Senate in Antipolo will, in itself, make history.
Next Sunday, we shall share with our readers the compelling strategic reasons.
I join everyone is remembering the proud moments of our history as we celebrate Independence Day tomorrow.
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