MANILA (Mabuhay) – Lawmakers from the present and past Congresses gathered at the Senate Tuesday to pay their last respects to former Senator Helena Benitez, who passed away on July 14 at the age of 102.
The necrological services began shortly past 10 a.m., after the urn containing Benitez’s ashes was brought to the Senate session hall.
Among the lawmakers who attended the event were outgoing Senate President Franklin Drilon, Senators Risa Hontiveros, Loren Legarda, Vicente Sotto III and Leila de Lima, and former senators Wigberto Tañada, Leticia Ramos Shahani and Santanina Rasul.
In his eulogy, Drilon hailed Benitez as a “trailblazer” who left a lasting mark in the fields of education, public service, diplomacy, international relations, arts and culture, environment and women empowerment.
Drilon said that as a lawmaker from 1967 to 1972, Benitez championed the cause of women and youth by authoring the National Manpower and Youth Development Act, which eventually paved the way for the creation of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
A known environmentalist, Benitez also authored laws protecting the Philippine eagle and the tamaraw, both which are both endangered species.
Tañada said the former senator lived “a life well lived” because of the various accomplishments she has gained while serving the country.
After the delivery of eulogies, Drilon presented a resolution honoring the former senator to her family.
Benitez, the seventh woman elected to the Senate, holds the distinction of being the first Filipina chairperson of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and the first Filipina recipient of the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Datu (Grand Cross).
Before her passing, she chaired the board of trustees of the Philippine Women’s University. (MNS)