DUMAGUETE CITY - For the first time, both the executive and legislative branches of government in Negros Oriental have admitted that the late Provincial Board Member Arturo Umbac was the emissary/bridge who opened the line of communication between the two branches of government that had been engaged in political bickering.
During the necrological service for Umbac Monday afternoon, Acting Governor Edward Mark Macias said the late “Manong Art” as he fondly calls him, was the voice of moderation, and he made it possible for both parties to talk.
That’s why when he was designated the acting governor of the province following the 90-day preventive suspension of Gov. Roel Degamo, there was not much noise about his taking over the helm of the provincial government as caretaker, partly because of what Umbac has done, Macias said.
With his passing, Macias said maybe, God has taken him because he has done enough already and that his late father Gov. Emilio Macias II and the late Gov. Agustin Perdices, who are both Umbac’s best friends, are waiting for him in heaven.
Macias, a medical doctor, said he felt guilty that Umbac died under his watch while having an official trip in Aklan to learn about the ISO certification of the said local government unit.
At the mangroves area in Aklan last week, Umbac was asking questions and was walking ahead of the others. Macias said he caught up with Umbac who was sitting under a shade and they talked about the big crab and the fishes at the mangroves area.
He said Umbac made no mention of being exhausted already and there was no sign whatsoever that the 83-year-old board member was in trouble.
He said he told Umbac to stay put but he continued walking until he collapsed before finishing the one-kilometer walk along the stretch of the mangrove area.
Macias said his only consolation is the fact that as a doctor, his assessment is that Umbac's death was sudden and free from pain.
Governor Degamo, meanwhile, also visited the wake of Umbac at the Legislative Building here to condole with the family.
He confirmed what Macias announced to the public that it was Umbac who made the reconciliation possible and opened the line of communications because according to Degamo, projects and development will be derailed if the executive and the legislative branches cannot see eye to eye.
Degamo recalled that it was not enough for him to extend his hand of reconciliation to members of the provincial board; he requested Umbac to make it happen, and he did.
For the governor, Umbac, who was his uncle, was one of the best advisers of the province. His late father Arturo Valencia Degamo is a cousin of the late board member.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Board passed and approved a Resolution of Condolence Monday afternoon during the regular session of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan.
The resolution of condolence was handed over by acting presiding officer Ma. Antonia Villegas during the necrological service.
Noted in the resolution were some of the important legislation that the late Umbac contributed and initiated.
These include the walking blood donor bank program, the Gulayan at Palaisdaan Alay sa Kabataan (GPAK) that became a national “Galing Pook” awardee, the Negros Oriental Disaster Preparedness community-based and management program, backyard medicine and food security program.
Umbac was also cited as responsible for energizing the entire province while he was the general manager of Negros Oriental Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Umbac also garnered several awards and recognition such as Outstanding Dumagueteno for public service in 2012; Most Outstanding Alumnus in public service awards from Saint Paul University of Dumaguete; Most Outstanding Reservist of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Region 7; and a national award from the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, among others.
His remains will be transferred to his residence in Bagacay on Tuesday where he will lie in state until Friday, when he will be laid to rest at the Everlasting Cemetery.
Judicial Vicar Msgr. Gamaliel Tulabing, during the necrological service, said that Umbac is a great loss to his family, the government, the people in general, and to the local parish, being a faithful member of the Catholic Church.
He also said he considered him one of the most honest government officials here who showed excellence in public service.
Msgr. Tulabing enjoined everybody to continuously pray for Umbac. (PNA)