Nueva Vizcaya Governor Carlos Padilla, 78. (Photo courtesy of the provincial government of Nueva Vizcaya)

SOLANO, Nueva Vizcaya – Residents of the province of Nueva Vizcaya are mourning the death of Governor Carlos Padilla on Friday morning.

Padilla succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 78, leaving behind his wife Ruth and children Carlos “Jojo” II, Ruthie Maye and Carlo Paolo.

“Today, we mourn the loss of a remarkable individual who leaves behind a legacy of dedication, selflessness, and service. Let us remember Governor Padilla for his remarkable contributions and the positive change he brought to our province,” local folk leader John David said.

Padilla spent 29 years as representative of the Lone District of Nueva Vizcaya including six years as assemblyman in the Batasang Pambansa. He once served as deputy speaker and also as a minority leader.

In the 1970s, he served as mayor of the then-undivided Dupax and later as mayor of Dupax Del Norte when the municipality was divided into three, with Dupax Del Sur and Alfonso Castañeda as the two other towns.

As a congressman, he was among the principal authors of Republic Act 6655 which established and provided for Free Public Secondary Education in the Philippines and RA 6728 establishing the Private Education Student Financial Assistance Scholarship, the Educational Service Contracting Program for private schools and other programs.

Padilla also took credit for the creation of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Commission on Filipino Languages and the establishment of about 45 high schools in the province of Nueva Vizcaya including the Philippine Science High School, Cagayan Valley Campus in Bayombong. He was also responsible for the conversion of the then Nueva Vizcaya State Institute of Technology and Nueva Vizcaya State Polytechnic College into a university now known as the Nueva Vizcaya State University.

Padilla was first elected as governor in 2016 and was reelected in 2019 and 2022.

He was a recipient of an outstanding alumnus award at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, where he served as president of the Supreme Student Council and also received his doctorate degree in Public Administration, honoris causa.

He received the same honorary degree in Education and in Humanities from the Philippine Normal University and Nueva Vizcaya State Institute of Technology and the Nueva Vizcaya State Polytechnic College.

Committed to public service

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. extended his deepest condolences to the family, loved ones, friends and constituents of Padilla.

“Having served three terms as governor and 29 years as representative of the lone district of Nueva Vizcaya, Governor Padilla endeared himself to his people as he had dedicated a huge part of his life to serve his constituents and promote their welfare,” Abalos said in a statement.

“His passion and commitment to public service cannot be overemphasized as he initiated landmark legislation such as free secondary education and the creation of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and the Commission on Philippine Languages,” he added.

He said Padilla’s commitment to provide quality and accessible education for his constituents also inspired him to establish 45 high schools in his home province, and was also instrumental in the establishment of the Nueva Vizcaya State University.

“Indeed, Padilla’s life was an inspiration not just to the people of Nueva Viscaya but to other fellow public servants around the country,” Abalos said.

“We pray that his bereaved wife, Ruth, his children Carlos II, Ruthie Mae and Carlo Paolo, will find solace in the thought that his memory will remain in the hearts of the people of Nueva Vizcaya for a long time,” he added. (PNA)