MANILA - The Senate will honor former Sen. Heherson Alvarez once Congress resumes session on May 4 minus a full necrological service for the lawmaker who died from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Monday.
Under the Department of Health's policy, all patients who died from COVID-19 -- including Alvarez -- must be immediately cremated to prevent the possible spread of the virus.
"The Senate has lost another pillar of its rich history and the saddest part is that we will not be able to properly honor him befitting an Honorable Statesman due to the COVID-19 protocols," Zubiri said in a statement, referring to the 80-year-old lawmaker.
"On our reopening on May 4, we will sponsor and adopt a Senate Resolution to honor such a statesman," he said.
Zubiri did not clarify if the resolution will also call for a post-memorial service for Alvarez.
A necrological service is traditionally held in the Senate for former senators who passed away. The remains of a deceased senator is brought to the session hall for a short program, highlighted by eulogies from fellow lawmakers to remember the late legislator's contributions to Congress.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, who worked with Alvarez in the 9th Congress, lamented that the chamber will not be able to accord the late senator with "the proper recognition" due members of the Senate.
"I join the rest of the nation in mourning the passing of a respectable leader and a good friend," Sotto said.
"I feel more pain with his loss as I and the rest of my colleagues at the Senate and our counterparts at the House of Representatives cannot even give him the proper recognition and reverence due to a former member of Congress given that his passing comes during this time when the country is gripped by this infectious, fatal virus and a necrological ceremony cannot possibly be held," he said.
"His legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of the people, and his name will forever be etched in our country’s rich history," he said.
Alvarez helped craft former President Corazon Aquino's centerpiece social reform policy, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP), before running for a seat in the Senate in 1987.
He championed environmental issues and human rights during his decade-long stint in the Senate from 1987 –1998, before serving as Environment Secretary under former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and as Commissioner of the Climate Change Commission under the administration of Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III.