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Cong, forever

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He would have been 86 this June 28, and certainly happiest celebrating it with his Carmelo Jr. at the Angeles City hall, and his Carmelo II representing the first district of Pampanga in the House, both positions he alternately held for multiple terms.

The simultaneous triumph at the May 2019 polls of his two sons, five months after his death, is to most, if not all political observers here grounded on the legacy of Carmelo Tarzan Lazatin. A sketch of which I dared to draw in this piece published June 27, 2016, exactly four years ago today which in turn cited an even earlier column dated June 12, 2011.

Carmelo II, Carmelo, Carmelo Jr. in a June 2016 edition of the Pampanga Press Club’s Talk Widus forum. Zona LIbre file photo

NO OTHER representative of Pampanga, past and present, has earned the title “Cong” as much as Tarzan Lazatin. Fact is, he has virtually exercised proprietary right over that honorific, that even out of the House, he is still hailed as Cong Tarzan.

Why, even in his incumbency as mayor of Angeles City for three terms, he was addressed as Cong. Not that his executive performance paled in comparison with his legislative record. It was but the way it was. Or maybe, some subconscious interplay there, given that Tarzan perfect in his five congressional campaigns – 1987, 1992, 1995, 2007 and 2010 – suffered his two electoral losses in the city mayoral contest – in his first political foray in 1980, and in his last try in 2013.

Did I say last? So, sorry. At 82, this June 28, Cong Tarzan has already set his sights on the chairmanship of the city’s premier barangay of Balibago this October. (He won, but of course.)

Should the city brace itself for Barangay Captain Cong then?

Whatever, the Cong will surely remain an essential constant in Tarzan. As I may have predicated, rather than predicted, in this Zona of June 12, 2012 titled The compleat Cong:

PERMANENT CHAIR of the comite de silencio in Congress.

That long-time ridicule from his political rivals ironically birthed the sublime in Pampanga 1st District Rep. Carmelo Lazatin.

That by his deeds, Cong Tarzan eloquently speaks is most manifest in his three terms in the House from 1987, his three terms at the Angeles City hall from 1998, and his current second term back at the House. Political longevity not even his close ally, the term-limit-busting Mayor Boking Morales of Mabalacat, could come close to.

That, indeed, “solon” goes beyond mere honorific to assume its essential meaning in Cong Tarzan is affirmed in his elevation to a hall of fame of outstanding congressmen by Congress Magazine and the Global News Network.

No mean feat that in but one term, Cong Tarzan authored and co-authored 187 house bills, seven of which were enacted into law: RA 9513, the Renewable Energy Act; RA 9502, the Cheaper Medicine Act; RA 9497, the Act Crating the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines; RA 9645, Commemoration of the Founding Anniversary of the Iglesia ni Cristo Act; RA 9779, the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009; RA 9729, the Climate Change Act of 2009; and RA 9710, the Magna Carta for Women.

And more of the same, impact bills, a year into his second term.

House Bill 4370, An Act Causing the Construction of Sanitary Landfill in Every Province of the Country, the Lifting of the Ban on Incinerators, Amending RA 9003 and RA 8749.

“The creation of landfills is a long-term solution to the growing waste problem, while incinerators provide immediate and medium-term solutions,” Cong Tarzan said in his explanatory note, stressing that the incinerators should be “at par with those used in Japan…zero emission of harmful gas coming from the burning of garbage.”

Curbing cybersex

House Bill 1444, the Anti-Cybersex Act which seeks to check the widespread incidence of prostitution and pornography in the Philippines that reaches every part of the globe through cyberspace.

“Unless rigid measures are founded against these abuses, society will bear the social costs since proliferation of obscene and pornographic materials and rampant exhibition of lewd shows in our midst have threatened the moral fibers of our society… “Amidst all of these are the youth who are the heaviest users and primary audience of mass media. If left unrepressed, these obscene practices will impose their detrimental effects psychologically, morally and physically. Hence, there is an urgent need to intensify the campaign against cybersex given the numerous studies that point out to higher correlation of exposure to pornography, prostitution and incidence of sex crimes.”

So presented Cong Tarzan the rationale of his bill that also proposed punishment with penalty of not less than P.5 million but not more than P1 million and imprisonment ranging from 20 years to 30 years for the producer, financer, promoter and manager of cybersex operations; and by not more than P250,000 and imprisonment ranging from three to six years on performers and exhibitors of cybersex.

No less than the Most Rev. Pablo Virgilio David, auxiliary bishop of San Fernando, hailed the legislative action: “It’s a welcome move to stop cybersex with the house bill. It’s a global problem. We need consolidated efforts. Any move against cybersex is laudable.”

House Bill 6644, Act Limiting the Amount of Bags Carried by Children in School and Implementing Measures to Protect School Children’s Health from the Adverse Effects of Heavy School Bags.

“Pupils are supposed to listen to their teachers in school, and read their textbooks at home. In the end, having pupils carry heavy load to school will be counterproductive, with many of them physically deformed as adults. Heavy load in school could be one reason why so many now suffer from spinal injuries, including slipped discs.” So Cong Tarzan said citing various studies including those of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) on the ill effects of making school children carry bags more than 15 per cent of their body weight.

As his bill remained pending, Cong Tarzan appealed to school officials throughout the country to abide by it as the school year opens next week.

Fathering cityhood

What can well be the landmark legislation in Cong Tarzan’s second term, arguably in his whole career as representative, is House Bill 2509, Act Converting the Municipality of Mabalacat into a Component City to be Known as Mabalacat City.” Of these, much has been written about. And we shall leave it at that. (Yes, Mabalacat became a city by the grace of God, by the sovereign will of the people and by the act of Tarzan, if we may add to paraphrase the ejaculation of then Mayor Boking Morales.)

Beyond his legislative duties, Cong Tarzan is hands-on in looking after the welfare of his constituents. A random rundown now of recent benefits that came their way: 25 service vehicles worth P7.1 million “to ensure mobility of our leaders who are tasked to serve their people,” and more coming until all 85 barangays in the 1st District have one; and the P29-million Sapang Balen-Bical Road in Mabalacat; increase in the number of Lazatin scholars.
Equally at work in the House and in his district, the quiet achiever goes. So ingrained in his constituents is Cong Tarzan that all
it takes for him to win in any election is for them to know that he’s running.

And more

EVEN ALREADY out of the House in 2013, Cong Tarzan continued delivering. His pet bills: House Bill No. 4450 – seeking the conversion of the Pampanga Agricultural College (PAC) in Magalang town into a state university – signed into law by President BS Aquino as Republic Act 10605 – with the former PAC now known as the Pampanga State Agricultural University; and Republic Act 10582 – creating six additional branches of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Angeles City, rising out of a bill he filed on January 29, 2013 requesting for the creation of the courts, which on that very day was  referred to the Committee on Rules, a Committee Report was made, and then calendared for reading.

And went on a smooth sailing that in five months was enacted into a law. No mean feat for legislative work there. But Lazatin is no Tarzan if not for this.

As the Cong is wont to say, En seguida, ahora mismo, larga!

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