By Charissa Luci
February 8, 2013, 6:52pm

Biliranons and former colleagues in Congress are mourning the passing away of former Deputy Speaker Gerardo “Gerry” S. Espina Sr., who succumbed to pneumonia last Wednesday at St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City.

His sons, Biliran Rep. Rogelio Espina and Biliran Governor Gerardo “Gerryboy” Espina Jr. confirmed that their father, who served as the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry and Minister of State for Labor from 1981 to 1984 under the regime of late President Ferdinand E. Marcos passed away last February 7 at 3 a.m. He was 77.

Espina, a recipient of three United States scholarship grants was the first elected representative of Biliran. He represented Biliran in the 10th, 11th and 12th Congress.

From April 2003 to May 2004, he served as the chairman of the Committee on Accounts and from May 2001 to March 2003, he was the House Majority Leader.

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. lamented the death of his good friend, expressing his condolences to the late Deputy Speaker’s family.

“Gerry was also a good friend. We were together in the opposition in the 11th Congress when I was a Minority Floor Leader. He has left a legacy not only in Biliran but in Manila as well where he first made his mark as councillor,” he said.

When he was still a Quezon City mayor, Belmonte was quoted in the Philippine Free Press describing his departed colleague as “the only one in Congress I know who delivers eloquent speeches without codigo (cheat sheet).”

Espina was behind the rehabilitation of Biliran’s national circumferential and cross country roads, electrification of all barangays in his province and the construction of 234 school rooms. During his leadership, all 132 barangay roads were cemented with a total of 104.220574 kilometers.

Hundreds of college scholarships were given during his stint as a congressman. One of its recipients finished medicine and is now in the United States, who is the daughter of Apolinario Gervacio.

Espina, a tri-media journalist, was elected in 1971 and 1978 as Manila Constitutional Convention delegate and Assemblyman respectively.

He decided to relocate to Biliran province in 1994 when Biliran, his birthplace and a former sub-province of Leyte province, became a regular province in 1992.

During Marcos’ time, Espina was the Administrator of the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA), which is now PEZA and a member of the Presidential Special Committee on Government Reorganization.

As an educator, Espina was a college textbook author of the Philippine Constitution and Government, which was published in 1981, and a Political Science professor at the Far Eastern University (FEU) from 1957 to 1962 and from 1964 to 1965 where he was elected first President of FEU Faculty Club. He also served as a teaching and research fellow in the University of Oregon, USA from 1963 to 1964; lecturer/professor, UP Graduate School of Public Administration, 1964 to 1971; and Dean, Lyceum of the Philippines School of Public Administration, 1972 to 1978.

Over several years, he was also a lecturer in several leadership, management and marketing seminars in the Development Academy of the Philippines, and the Marketing Association of the Philippines among others. He also served as a lecturer at the U.S. Peace Corps Training Program, San Francisco State College, USA.

Prior to his death, he operated several businesses and assumed as chairman and president of the Land Resources Development Corp. and G.S. Espina Realty Corp. He was also the proprietor of the GSE Supermarket.

As a tri-media journalist, he wrote a regular daily English and Tagalog columns in the national newspapers of Manila Times Publishing Company prior to Martial Law. He also had a regular nationwide daily radio program and a regular weekly TV program previously with IBC Channel 13 and later with Channel 7 for several years. He also hosted a daily radio program over MBC Radyo Natin.

Espina is survived by his wife, Asuncion and his children, Gabriel, Rogelio, Rodolfo, Eilene, Gerardo and Roselyn.

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