Former Senator Heherson Alvarez passes away after battling COVID-19

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2020 03:17 PM | Updated as of Apr 20 2020 04:48 PM

Former senator Heherson Alvarez during the necrological services for the late senate president Nene Pimentel at the Philippine Senate in Pasay City on October 23, 2019. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) - Former Senator Heherson "Sonny" Alvarez passed away on Monday after contracting the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), his daughter told ABS-CBN News.

He was 80 years old.

According to Xilca Alvarez-Protacio, her father passed away at 12:56 p.m.

Her brother, Hexilon, also confirmed their father's death to his Alpha Phi Beta fraternity brothers. Alvarez is a member as well of the fraternity.

According to former Senator Joey Lina, his colleague in the Senate from the late 1980s up to the early 1990s, Alvarez succumbed "despite the gallant efforts of his doctor and the blood plasma convalescent therapy, and the encouraging signs after that."

Alvarez underwent an experimental plasma treatment for the disease last week, according to his children.

His wife, Philippine Educational Theater Association founder Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, also acquired the disease but her condition has improved.

"Sister Cecile is truly extremely sad, to say the least. Goodbye, Sonny. Your loved ones, including us your brods, would not even be able to see you go to your final resting place at this time," said Lina, who is also Alvarez' fraternity brother.

Alvarez-Protacio was coordinating the immediate cremation of her father’s remains, per covid 19 protocols. 

Alvarez served in the Senate from 1987 to 1998, where he focused on enviromental legislation. He was chairman of the Senate committee on environment for 10 years. 

After serving for 2 terms in the Senate, he became a congressman representing the 4th district of his home province, Isabela, from 1998 to 2001. 

Among the laws he pushed in Congress were The Clean Air Act and the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act. 

After the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in February 1986, then President Corazon Aquino appointed Alvarez as minister of agrarian reform. 

Alvarez helped craft the Aquino government's centerpiece social reform policy, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), before running for a seat in the Senate in 1987. 

Alvarez was the principal complainant in the impeachment case filed against former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada in the lower House in 2000.

After Estrada was ousted from office in January 2001, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed him secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, where he continued his green advocacy.

Alvarez was one of the youngest delegates to the 1971 Constitutional Convention, and was one of the leaders of the anti-Marcos movement after martial law.

"Farewell my brod and closest friend in the halls of the Senate," Lina said.

"Your legacy of service to our homeland, marked by your unselfish offer of time, talent and treasure amidst the dangers you went through, to regain your people's freedom and to restore democracy, will forever be etched in our memory, and will serve as signal inspiration to your brods, and the youth especially of this generation and the generations to come," he added.

Alvarez is survived by his wife and two children.

-- with report from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News