TARLAC 1st District Rep. Enrique Cojuangco, younger brother of businessman Eduardo Cojuangco Jr. and first cousin once removed of President Benigno Aquino III, died Tuesday morning after suffering an aneurysm. He was 74.
House leaders led by Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, Jr. and Majority Leader and Mandaluyong Rep. Neptali Gonzales II expressed their sympathies to the Conjuangco family.
The Cojuangco brothers are also uncles of former defense secretary and defeated 2010 presidential candidate Gilbert Teodoro.
Enrique Cojuangco was the first cousin of the late President Corazon Aquino. He won the congressional seat in the first district of Tarlac in the 2010 and 2013 elections.
During the 15th Congress, Cojuangco served as the chairman of the House committee on economic affairs and was the principal proponent of House Bill 5286 or the proposed anti-trust bill, which seeks to curb monopolies and protect consumers and the economy from unfair competition.
The Palace sent its condolences.
“We convey our deepest condolences to his bereaved family. Representative Cojuangco served for two terms and was known and admired for his professionalism and dedication to public service,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
A tweet by the House Media Relations Service said Cojuangco died at The Medical City.
Cojuangco, along with Batangas Rep. Mark Llandro Mendoza, led the contingent of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) in the House.
In his honor, the House leadership vowed to pass the Fiar Competition Bill.
“On behalf of my colleagues, the officials of the Secretariat and the entire House of Representatives as well as of my family, our prayers and sympathies to Violeta, his widow, and their four children as well as to His Excellency, President Benigno S. Aquino III, Henry’s nephew,” Belmonte said.
“Henry, as we fondly called him, has been a staunch advocate and author of the Fair Competition Bill and will always be remembered for his dedication and very pleasant demeanor. We, his colleagues, hope to keep his memory alive by taking on his significant legislative advocacies,” Belmonte said.
He said that it was through the efforts of Cojuangco that the Fair Competition Bill remains alive in the House of Representatives
The proposed bill is one of the longest bills pending in Congress having been first filed in the 8th Congress.
At present, the proposed bill has been passed on third reading in the Senate.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday night approved the bill on second reading.
In a voice voting, the House approved on second reading the measure that aims to minimize, if not totally eradicate, unfair competition, monopolies, and cartels in the country.
The measure is among the economic measures that the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) and the Philippine Business Groups asked from Congress to prioritize.
Belmonte recalled how in their last meeting with Cojuangco Monday night over issues on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law, one of the late lawmaker’s last acts was to ask Majority Floor Leader Neptali Gonzales II when the Fair competition Bill would be tackled in plenary.
“In memory of Henry who stuck with it, we want to make a real effort to pass it, something that he has worked for so hard. We resolve to push that bill until it is passed,” the Speaker said.
“As we bid him farewell, we also thank Henry for his service to our government and to the Filipino people, and salute him for a job well done,” Belmonte said.
Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, head for the minority contingent in the Commission on Appointments, said Cojuangco was a great loss to the legislature.
“I join the nation, the Congress of the Philippines and the Cojuangco family in mourning the untimely passing of Rep. Enrique Cojuangco of Tarlac, an esteemed and respected colleague, legislator, sports patron and political leader,” Albano said.
Albano said Cojuangco was one of the leading lights of the the NPC who was “known for his endearing unassuming, modest ways and was respected for his effective political leadership.”
“He was called Boss Henry and Tito Henry by the younger colleagues,” Albano said.
The Commission on Elections said no special elections will be held to replace Cojuangco because elections are less than a year away.
In the absence of a special election, the House can decide who can replace the Tarlac congressman, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.
Cojuangco’s remains are set to be brought to the La Salle Greenhills Chapel Tuesday night.
According to a statement from the NPC, viewing of the lawmaker’s remains will be held May 13 to 15 while internment will be held in Mount Carmel Church, New Manila at a date to be announced. – With Sandy Araneta and Sara Susanne D. Fabunan