June 13, 1970 marks the second death anniversary of the late Rep. Vicente I. Peralta (N. 2nd district, Sorsogon) who at 54 succumbed to a heart ailment which ended is illustrious and colorful political career. Never in the history of Sorsogon or the entire Bicolandia had a man from that region achieved national fame than Peralta for his remarkable achievements while a member of Congress. This piece, therefore, is a tribute to a man not only Sorsogon or Bicolandia is proud of, but the country as well.
The late solon was a student leader in his college days, bar topnotcher
(9th place in 1938), statesman, parliamentarian, legislator, scholar, orator and one of the very few recognized economists in the country. On the floor of the House he ranked as one of the few congressmen whose legislative prowess fascinated the public. In fact, it was his rare ability that enabled his stay in Congress for 15 years possible. Most Sorsoguenos believed that were it not for his untimely death he would have been reelected to a fifth term in Congress.
His ability had been not left unnoticed by Congressional reporters and magazine writers. He was consistently adjudged one of the “Ten Most Outstanding Congressmen” since 1954 to 1966 by the Congressional Press Club and by the Philippine Free Press since 1958 through 1965. He was a recipient of a total of 54 awards, certificates of merits, and plagues of distinction from various civic, professional and labor groups for outstanding legislative performance and meritorious services. On October 27, 1968, his 54th birthday anniversary, a life-size bronze monument was erected on his honor at Cumadcad, Castilla, Sorsogon.
Peralta started his political career as a Nacionalista and died a Nactionalista. At the height of the 1965 presidential campaign, he was reported by the metropolitan papers to have compromised to join the Liberals under President Macapagal who was then seeking reelection. He vehemently denied this rumor, saying that “I have started as a Nactionalista and will die a Nationalista”. I am not afraid to fight the forces of the (Liberal) administration left in Sorsogon.” True to his words, he never switched to the opposite party in spite of the tempting offers and considerations.
He had a few peers in Congress in oratory. His incisive logic made him a great lawmaker. On several occasions he engaged President Marcos, then an LP senator, in a spirited debate on the foreign investment bill. He said, “If we are to accelerate the pace of our economic development, we must make use of more external capital… our domestic resources are not adequate to sustain the requirements of a high level capital formation and present levels of livings, and any attempt at relying solely on ou rresources would undermine the welfare of the massas of our people.”
He also voiced his optimism in the capacity of the Bicolano in the task of nation building. “We are faced witha new frontier and horizon to conquer toward national greatness and young men and women, such as the newsmen of the region, whose idealism is not yet tarnished with frustration in our day to day experience, are needed…”, he said.
A few days before his death, a debate with an equally brilliant House colleague, Rep. Justiniano Montano of Cavite, on the proposed amendments to the Mgna Carta of Labor. He said, “I will restate my basic belief: that collective bargaining is a very essential right of labor; that strike is the only sanction to collective bargaining; that injunction is the bane of labor everywhere and it is a menace to labor; and that no progressive government committed to the rights of the laboring class should ever conceive of legislation that sanctions, that legally sanctions, the use of injunctions in order to thwart and to cow labor..”
Of his death, President Marcos said, “The death of Congressman Peralta has deprived the country of one ot is most brilliant parliamentarians. It has taken from the halls of Congress a man whose words weighed heaviliy in the counsel of his colleagues… I remember him for his incisive logic and depth of knowledge.”
Speaker Jose B. Laurel Jr. had this to say of him: “The sudden demise of Congressman Peralta… is a great shock to me. His passing left a void not only in the House of Representatives, but also in the entire country for hew as an intense and earnest man whose passion was the welfare of his people.”
His House colleagues took time out to extol him during the necrological services in Congress.
Rep. Ramon H. Felipe, Jr. (L, 1st District, Cam. Sur) said of Peralta: “He was the voice of Bicolandia… But for almost 15 years the silver tongue of Peralta… echoed and reechoed in this august chamber in deep, sonorous tones that commended the attention and respect not only of his peers and the gallery, but also of his more than one million follow Bicolanos, who took justifiable pride in his parliamentary prowess.”
Rep. Marcelino Veloso, House Majority Leader, said: “He must be remembered not because he was able parliamentarian, scholar and orator but because of his integrity. In the many acrimonious debates he had with legal lights on the floor, whether victor or vanquished, what shone brilliantly from his words was his integrity. In the many memorable parliamentary skirmishes he had with his peers he never resorted to sophism to becloud issues. Whatever emenagted from his mouth were the words of wisdom on the golden plate of integrity”
Author’s note: The article written by Marcos E. Paras, Jr. for the Examiner, June 13, 1970, was shared by Jovi E. Peralta and Ernestina Peralta to Sorsogon City.