No road, building named after province’s founder
posted 21-Oct-2018  ·  
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Cong. Francisco Perfecto

Forty-five years after his death in 1973, not a single road or public building in the province he served for three decades has been named in honor of Congressman Francisco A. Perfecto.

Except for a bust in Caramoran town and a marker at the provincial capitol, there is no other visible symbol giving tribute to the father of Catanduanes’ independence. In contrast, an elementary school and a Virac park has been named in honor of the late Governor Juan M. Alberto while a few years ago, the late Governor Leandro I. Verceles Sr.’s name was etched on the concrete awning at entrance of the former provincial library.

To this day, five years after the Sangguniang Panlalawigan passed an ordinance renaming the Old Capitol Building in Sta. Elena where Perfecto once held office, the edifice still does not carry the name of the province’s father.

According to a member of the late congressman’s clan, they still do not know why the renaming did not prosper despite the fact that the sponsors of the measure – PBM Jose Romeo Francisco, then PBM Gregorio Angeles, PBM Arnel Turado and then PBM Shirley Abundo – assured that it was made pursuant to the revised guidelines of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines empowering the local government unit to rename public structures within their jurisdiction.

Records also show that prior to enacting the ordinance in November 2015, the provincial board referred the matter to the NHCP in compliance with Sec. 13 of said guideline requiring consultation with the Commission.

In January 2015, the same board also enacted an ordinance installing a life-size statue of Cong. Perfecto at the capitol compound in commemoration of the congressman’s authoring House Bill No. 301 that established Catanduanes as a separate and independent province.

Under Provincial Ordinance No. 001-2014, the statue is supposed to be situated in front of the Legislative Building on the left wing annex of the capitol, with the amount of P300,000.00 appropriated for its construction.

The ordinance stipulated that the Provincial Engineering Office be tasked with the design and work estimates as well as overseeing the installation of the statue, which was supposed to be unveiled on Oct. 26, 2015 in observance of the Catanduanes Abaca Festival.

A Perfecto clan member, Atty. Renato Quintana, said the renaming of the old capitol building, owned by the provincial government and built in the early 1900s, would have done justice to the selfless service of the congressman.

A migrant from Masbate

Born on Sept. 4, 1895 to Monico Perfecto and Honorata Alcantara in San Jacinto town in Ticao island, Masbate, the young Francisco was nine years old when his family migrated to Catanduanes in 1904. He got his schooling from his mother and in the public schools of Bagamanoc and Panganiban.

After receiving his diploma from the Manila High School in 1917, he studied law at the Philippine Law School and graduated in 1921. He became a member of the Philippine Bar that same year and began law practice as one of the assistants at the Crossfield & O’Brien Law Office in Manila.

Atty. Perfecto’s checkered political career started in 1925 when, at the age of 30, he was elected Representative for the Second District of Albay in the 7th Philippine Legislature. Three years later, he was elected as Lieutenant Governor of Catanduanes, then a sub-province of Albay. He was likewise a member of the Provincial Board of Albay twice, in 1931-1934 and in 1937-1940.

When war broke out and the Japanese occupied the country, he was elected to the 1st Congress of the Commonwealth of the Philippines as a member of its House of Representatives for the Fourth District of Albay. It was during this stint that Cong. Perfecto filed Commonwealth Act No. 687 or House Bill 301, with the measure approved by Congress on Sept. 26, 1945, two months after the Philippines gained independence from the Americans. Two days after President Sergio Osmeña signed it into law on Oct. 24, 1945, Catanduanes was officially recognized as a separate and independent province.

He became the lone district’s first representative, in the Second Congress from 1946-1949, to which he was once again elected in the Third Congress from 1953-1957.

Aside from HB 301, among the solon’s landmark legislation were the creation of Caramoran as a municipality in 1948, separating the town from Pandan; Republic Act 3948 that renamed the town of Calolbon to San Andres in 1952; RA 1654 renaming the town of Panganiban to Payo (later renamed Panganiban via RA 2122 sponsored by Cong. Jose Alberto and which was enacted into law without executive approval in 1957); a bill he co-sponsored with former Speaker Jose Laurel Jr. creating the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); and, the establishment of Legaspi as an open port in Albay.

A measure of Perfecto’s upbringing is reflected in his support for the abolition of Act No. 2710 passed in 1917 which allowed absolute divorce on the ground of criminal conviction for adultery on the part of the wife or concubinage on the part of the husband.

Two years after a bill was filed in 1947 by Cong. Agustin Kintanar proposing the abolition of divorce, Perfecto followed suit with a similar bill repealing Act 2710.

But it was the bill he drafted and filed in the 1950’s that proved to be highly controversial. Coming from a province frequently hit by storms, Cong. Perfecto sought to create a Typhoon Commission that would conduct research on typhoons and recommend measures on how to minimize their harmful effects.

A cynical member of the House of Representatives immediately dubbed the bill as the "Bill to Outlaw Typhoons," when its true intent was to study typhoons and how to dissipate their destructive force.

Cong. Perfecto retired from politics after the end of his term in 1957. He was succeeded in Congress by Jose M. Alberto, who with his brothers, then Governor Juan M. Alberto and successor Vicente M. Alberto, ruled the island for more than three decades.

In 1963, he was appointed as associate commissioner of the Public Service Commission and retired two years later after reaching the age of 70.

He tried to revive his political career by running against the then already entrenched Cong. Jose Alberto, who handily trounced the old man during the 1965 national elections.

Perfecto was married to the former Nicolasa Cervero, a critic teacher at the Philippine Normal School, with whom he had two children who also became lawyers like him. Atty. Merito Perfecto was a City Court Judge in Legaspi City until his death, survived by three children, while Atty. Carmel Perfecto retired as Director of the National Economic Development Authority and died in July 2012.

The father of Catanduanes independence succumbed to cancer of the liver on August 20, 1973 at the age of 77, with his remains buried at the Manila Memorial Park in Paranaque City.

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