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Former Sen. Victor Ziga remembered for excellence, patriotism, real service

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

Former Senator Victor San Andres Ziga, 75, sets a standard of excellence, patriotism and devotion to public service in his political career as public servant, Senate President Tito Sotto said in a resolution of sympathy and tribute to the departed Bicolano lawmaker.

The resolution of sympathy signed by Sotto and Majority Floor Leader Sen. Miguel Zubiri on Monday, Feb. 1, it said that Ziga exhibited courage and uncompromising ethical commitment to honesty in government and for the environment, where he publicly denounced graft and corruption in all levels of government and criticized the inability of the administration to curb pollution.

“He manifested an authentic and high degree of patriotism both in words and in deeds, he urged the Senate to sing the Philippine National Anthem every Monday at the beginning of the plenary session,” Sotto said.

Sotto said that Ziga belonged to the so-called Magnificent 12 senators who rejected the “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Security between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America on Sept. 16, 1991.

“Even after his retirement from politics, he continued to serve his fellow Filipinos who have less in life by associating and involving himself in typhoon relief operations and civic organizations, such as the free medical eye specialist mission and the medical mission of the Philippine General Hospital,” Sotto said.

“The passing away of a great and dedicated public servant, who had established standards of excellence in and devotion to public service, is a great loss to the nation,” he said.

According to the Senate resolution, Ziga is a distinguished and brave law practitioner and a brilliant member of the academe. He rose to national prominence when he won in the 1984 Batasang Pambansa elections at age 39 despite running under the opposition banner.

The Zigas are original members of the Liberal Party in Bicol specifically in Albay province.

Sotto said Ziga was instrumental in the passage of important measures such as: RA 6728 which provides government assistance to students and teachers in private educational institutions; RA 6948 which standardizes and upgrades the benefits of military veterans and their dependents; RA 6957 or the “Build-Operate-Transfer Law”; RA 7160 or the “Local Government Code of 1991”; RA 7395 or the “Magna Carta of Public Health Workers”; and RA 7432 which grants benefits and special privileges to senior citizens.

He also authored and co-authored 295 bills and resolutions, but the most notable of which was a measure that seeks to require all primary and secondary schools to integrate in their curriculum the teaching of the dangers and evil effects of drug dependency, drug addiction and drug abuse.

The bill according to Sotto seeks to prohibit the manufacture, distribution and sale of cigars and cigarettes without the warning, “Smoking is dangerous to your health” printed on their labels, packs, cartoons or packages”.

As assemblyman, Ziga’s legacy is the establishment of the National Rehabilitation Center for drug addicts, requiring secondary schools to teach drug addiction and abuse, and the increase of minimum basic monthly salaries of public-school teachers.

Similarly, in a separate resolution by Senator Richard Gordon, he said that Ziga served with distinction and good work ethic in every government position he held.

“Senator Ziga was a man of integrity, honesty and worthy of emulation. Senator Victor “Vic” San Andres Ziga is a public servant from Bicol coming from a family of leaders, known for their public service, excellence and work ethics,” Gordon said.

Ziga was elected senator in 1987 and served as: chairman of the Committee on Public Works and Highways; vice-chairman of the committees on agriculture and food, public services, and tourism; member of 12 other committees; member of the Commission on Appointments; and as member of the Senate electoral tribunal.

Ziga served as: senator in 1987-1992; assemblyman in 1984-1986; Minister of General Services in 1986; and governor of Albay.

He was born on Sept. 30, 1945 in Manila to: former senator and governor Venancio Prieto Ziga (1946-1951) and congressman (1961-1969) of Albay; and his mother, Tecla San Andres Ziga, former congresswoman of Albay (1956-1961) and the first female senator of the Republic (1963-1969) who was the first female bar topnotcher in the Philippines.

He finished his education at the Ateneo de Naga (high school), Ateneo de Manila University (Bachelor of Arts), University of California in Los Angeles (Degree in Political Science and Psychology), and University of Santo Tomas (Bachelor of Laws). He passed the bar in 1975.

Ziga passed away on Jan. 31, 2021, leaving behind his wife Carmen Velasco Ziga and his children- Christian, Diane, Caroline, Vic Jr., Ricky, Brian, and Mayte.

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