The House of Representatives on Monday honored the legacies of former Deputy Speaker Amelita Calimbas-Villarosa of the Lone District of Occidental, Mindoro who passed away on her 78th birthday on May 31, 2021.
Villarosa, the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats provincial chairperson, had served as the first woman Deputy Speaker of the chamber during the 14th Congress, and Senior Deputy Minority Leader during the 15th Congress. The veteran lawmaker also represented the same district during the 11th and 13th Congress.
“Deputy Speaker Villarosa left a void in our hearts too difficult to fill as she was not only a colleague or a friend. She was the embodiment of what we all envision a Filipino woman should be.
Affectionate, yet fearless in expressing her views. Loving, yet fiery in aiding the defenseless. A doting mother, a compassionate aunt, a devoted friend,” House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said during the necrological services for Villarosa held at Batasang Pambansa.
“We all knew that she lived long enough to fight for what she believed was the right thing to do —to build a better country that protect the rights and promote the welfare of our women, our children, and our less fortunate brothers and sisters,” Romualdez, president of the Lakas-CMD and representative of Leyte's first district, added.
Romualdez also remembered Villarosa, fondly called “Girlie” by family, friends and colleagues, as a “guiding light” to young members of the Lakas-CMD political party.
“As one of the pioneers of our party, the Lakas-CMD, she was a guiding light to us—the young Turks of the party. She was our Executive Vice President for many years and our Chairwoman for a time. She would have been proud to see one of her young Turks now i this podium speaking as House Majority Leader of the 18th Congress,” the Leyte 1st District representative said.
“Today, we all grieve because we lost a dear friend. One who is joy to be with, and an inspiration to all. But we lost not only a beloved colleague. Our nation lost a daughter who dreamt big for her bright future,” he added.
The Lakas-CMD President described Villarosa as a “trailblazer in Philippine legislation” for crafting laws of national significance when she was part of the majority and even when she was Senior Deputy Minority Leader in the 15th Congress.
“As the first woman Deputy Speaker in Philippine Congress, she single-handedly supervised the Social Services Cluster composed of twelve standing committees in the 14th Congress. That Cluster produced eight laws of national importance and helped steer into approval on
Third Reading 617 equally important measures at the end of their term,” Romualdez said, also noting that Villarosa’s pet bills—the Girl Scouts Philippine Charter and the Social Security Condonation
Law—breezed through legislation and were enacted into law in 2009.
According to Romualdez, Villarosa also steered the enactment into law of vital measures including the Magna Carta for Women, extension of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, Access to Cheaper and Quality Medicine and the Cooperative Code of the Philippines.
“What I consider one of her edifying legacies is her influential role in the passage of the law allowing automated election in the Philippines. That law authorized Comelec to conduct pilot testing of a Computerized Election System in some provinces in 1998, which eventually paved the way for automated national election in 2010,” Romualdez stressed.
Last June 2, the chamber adopted House Resolution (HR)1841 expressing the House’s profound condolences to the family of the multi-awarded legislator.
Villarosa was recognized as “Top Outstanding Legislator” during the 11th, 13th and Fourteenth Congresses; received commendations from the Allied Nations Crusade against Environment Disasters, League of the Press Association of the Philippines, Makati Grade School and Manila Bulletin; and named as an “Outstanding Pro-Women’s Agenda Legislator” by the National Centennial Commission.
Villarosa also served as chief of staff, trustee, and treasurer of the Congressional Spouses Foundation, Inc. (CSFI) from 1992 to 1998 during the term of her husband, former Representative Jose T. Villarosa.
She survived her husband and five children, Voltaire Anthony, Mariliza, Frances Joami, Maria Theresa, and Michael Joseph.