Interview

A Cabinet Report A Public Servant for All – A Tribute to Attorney Wencelito ‘Wency’ Andanar

WENCELITO ‘WENCY’ TAN ANDANAR: “That part of the Philippines will be so prosperous that our illegals in Sabah will have no option but to return to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region because of the economy in the Bangsamoro.”

MODERATOR: Life lived to the fullest ang buhay ni Atty. Wencelito Tan Andanar. Bilang isang abogado at public servant, inihandog niya ang kaniyang buhay na naglilingkod para sa tao at sa bayan. Isinilang noong December 2, 1947 – ‘Wency’ as he was fondly called ay lumaki sa Sta. Monica, isang munisipalidad sa Northern Surigao del Norte.

Bata pa lang, kitang-kita na ang kaniyang stellar work ethic bilang estudyante. Nagtapos bilang salutatorian sa kaniyang formative years. Nag-aral ito ng pre-law at formal law school training sa Ateneo de Manila University at kinumpleto ang kaniyang Master of Laws overseas sa University of Melbourne kung saan nakatanggap siya ng Australian Alumni Excellence Award galing sa Australian Embassy sa Pilipinas.

Dagdag pa nito, kinumpleto ni Atty. Wency ang kaniyang Masters sa National Security Administration sa National Defense College of the Philippines sa Camp Aguinaldo kung saan nagtapos siya na mayroong academic distinctions at naging commissioned Lieutenant Colonel para sa Philippine Air Force Reserve Command.

Sa humble beginnings ng kaniyang professional career, pumasok si Atty. Wency sa Resort Hotels Corporation kung saan naglingkod ito ng iba’t ibang managerial positions. Sa pagpasa ng Philippine Bar Exams noong 1978, dito nagsimula ang serbisyo niya para sa public sector. Adding a feather to his cap, pumasa din ito sa National Prosecutor Service Exam.

Sa simula ng kaniyang legal career, maraming hinawakang posisyon si Atty. Wency. Itinatag siya na Special Assistant sa Minister of Justice under Honorable Ricardo C. Puno. Naging miyembro din siya ng NAPOLCOM Adjudication Board, number one Assistant Coordinator ng Metro Manila Inquest Fiscals, Member – Promotion Board ng DBP, NBI at CID, Research Trial Attorney para sa Office of the Government Corporate Counsel.

Hoping to give back to his roots, bumalik si Atty. Wency sa kaniyang home province sa Surigao kung saan nag-practice ito ng free legal assistance law sa private sector sa ilalim ni Senator J.W. Diokno mula 1984 hanggang 1986. Binuo din ni Atty. Wency ang United Opposition of Surigao kung saan nagamit niya ang kaniyang husay sa hosting para sa programang ‘Unos sa Pagpakabana’ sa radyo.

Sa panahon na ito, binuo niya rin ang PDP Laban Party sa ilalim ng Chairmanship ni Mayor Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel, Jr. kung saan nahalal siya bilang Deputy Secretary General and Chairman ng kanilang National Education Committee.

Sa kalaunan, sa pag-angat ni Mayor Pimentel bilang Minister noong 1986, hinirang si Atty. Wency bilang OIC-Governor ng Surigao del Norte kung saan nanumpa ito bilang Deputy Secretary General of the League of Provincial Governors and City Mayors hanggang early 1988.

Dito nagsimula ang buhay ni Atty. Wency sa paglilingkod sa pambansang gobyerno. Nagtrabaho si Atty. Wency bilang Consultant at Advisor nang ilang beses para sa iba’t ibang agencies at public servant tulad ng: House Committee on Public Order and Security; DILG Bureau of Fire Protection; and Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office.

To name a few kung saan siya’y nagbigay kontribyusyon sa pagbuo ng RA 6975 – ang batas na bumuo sa Department of Interior and Local Government, kung saan itinatag siyang Undersecretary dito sa administrasyon ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Tumakbo din si Atty. Wency para sa Senado sa ilalim ng Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino Party o LDP pero mayroong ibang tinadhana para sa kaniya.

Pagkatapos ng halalan, siya ay binoto bilang Deputy Secretary hindi lang isa pero dalawang beses. Ang una, bilang General ng LDP mula 1992 hanggang 1995 at ang sumunod bilang Senate Deputy Secretary for Administration and Finance ni Senate President Neptali Gonzales mula 1995 to 1997.

Malapit na katrabaho si Atty. Wency sa mga dating mga pangulo. Una, bilang Technical Staff ng Super Cabinet ni Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos. Naging Presidential Assistant din siya kay Pangulong Cory Aquino kung saan naging CEO at Chairman ng Philippine Coconut Authority. Naging Acting Secretary para sa DILG, appointed ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; at kamakailan lang din hanggang sa kaniyang pagkamatay, isang Special Envoy para kay Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte para sa Malaysia kung saan nagtatag ito ng linkages with industry leaders para sa BARMM sa gitna ng pandemya. Tumulong din ito sa pag-repatriate ng mga OFW, isang responsibilidad na natupad din sa tulong ng kaniyang anak na si PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar.

Bilang advocate para sa transnational crime at counterterrorism training, kinatawan ni Atty. Wency ang Pilipinas nang ilang beses para sa iba’t ibang delegasyon sa buong mundo.

Sa kabila ng kaniyang dedikasyon para sa serbisyong-bayan, marami ring sinalihang organisasyon at society si Atty. Wency tulad ng: Integrated Bar of the Philippines; Free Legal Assistance Office; Rotary Club of Baguio-North; ang Air Command at Staff College Foundation. To name a few, naging Ambasador din si Atty. Wency para sa Peace for the Universal Peace Federation.

Para sa isang mahaba at maunlad na buhay, siya’y nagtakda ng pamantayan bilang isang Pilipino na nagbigay nang buong puso at isip para sa inang bayan.

Kaya ngayong gabi sa Cabinet Report, isang pag-alala at pagbalik-tanaw sa pamana sa Pilipino ni Wency Andanar – Public Servant.

Naging Chairman ng Philippine Coconut Authority noong 1989 at noong panahong iyon, naging malaking usapin ang ipinataw na coconut levy sa mga magsasaka ng niyog.

DOF SEC. DOMINGUEZ: You know, I met Wency Andanar sometime in the early 80’s. You know, he was quite active in the PDP Laban and I’m one of the early members of PDP Laban. And so I’ve known him—what is it? More than… almost 40 years, that’s long, my golly I’m getting old. You know I was very impressed by his activism, his intelligence and his good humor. And he was a good guy you know, he was a good guy to be with.

And of course after Cory got into office, I was also appointed as Undersecretary first of Agriculture and I got to meet Wency because he was at that time the Governor of Surigao del Norte. And also, he was also with the PCA then. And together, as Undersecretary and subsequently as Secretary of Agriculture, we worked together in the PCA – and the big issue in the coconut industry was the monopsony that Marcos and Cojuangco created.

In the early 70’s the price of coconut was very high. So Marcos said, “Let’s put a levy on coconut products sold, whether it’s copra or a whole nut ‘no for the designated industry.” So they’ve put a levy and they said that that was a contribution for the development of the industry.

CHARLES AVILA/FORMER ADMINISTRATOR, PCA: You know these days, people are talking all the time of the coco levy fund, which is really nothing. Now, because in the beginning and the guy who started giving the ammunition together, the documents, the study, the serious study into what were the issues really was Atty. Wencelito Andanar. There was that side of him that took me a while to see. Knowing him as an organizer [unclear], what was that – that he was really a legal scholar!

DOF SEC. DOMINGUEZ: Together with Wency and Monching Mitra when we took over, one of the first things we did was to break that monopsony and you know how we broke that monopsony? It was very simple – we just said now, you can export copra. All of a sudden the domestic prices adjusted almost overnight to the international price. So nobody is screwing the farmer anymore and we did not collect of course the levy anymore, okay.

CHARLES AVILA/FORMER ADMINISTRATOR, PCA: Now, in the ordinary, we took to diversify, to intercrop, to do everything that will bring more to the industry, to develop the industry for the first time maybe, not that leave it in the anarchy that it is, but making into a real industry, competitive! We are far from that, but in thoughts, in intention and the energies that we put to it, Wency was a pioneer. Wency, his family should be proud of him! It’s his legacy to leave in the government service.

DOF SEC. DOMINGUEZ: I’m really sorry to lose a good friend. Wency, he is a real prince of a guy, real prince of a guy.

CHARLES AVILA/FORMER ADMINISTRATOR, PCA: Never a dull moment. I enjoyed working with him from the start. Visaya gyud! You did not lack music, the guitar was there. If there is a microphone, he love it is his hand. I would not necessarily call him a microphone grabber when it came to music, but it just about. And before you knew it, you knew that this was his very smart way of organizing people, of bonding. And so much of the fruits of the organizing by Wency were solid, because they were not just rational, they were not just logical, they were not just poetic – they were musical!

DFA SEC. LOCSIN: Wency and I go back a long way. It goes back a little more than me and so I needed his experience, guidance and his skilled protection long before most of you were gleamed in your mother’s arms. He knew politics and knew everything about the theory of politics, which has very little relation to politics. Wency and I work on as much as in the coconut industry and where it thrives and suffers the most – Central Luzon, Mindanao, the Visayas.

Coconut was our country’s lifeblood in the best of times, and in the worst of times, our greatest loss when we work on it together long ago, late 70s, 80s. If I told you more than that, I might get in trouble, because I don’t know if what I did has prescribed in the penal code. So, I speak in generalities. But this I know: He loved the coconut regions, he loved Mindanao, he loved this country, if you knew his family he will love you and I hope he loved me too. When I joined Cory Aquino to topple the Marcos regime, I have lost touch with him. I have left the coco levy and its great law firm ACCRA Law long before that.

But when I saw him in the midst of the Cory take over, I smiled and he smiled bigger and we were together again. I kept protecting the coconut industry as I have wrought it from its self-proclaimed avengers. He and I knew that more good than bad had come from the kind of work that others and we have done for. His love for the coconut industry and for its regions – central, south – never waver. His commitment to the betterment of the coconut workers and planters, that never waver. And it was always at his expense and never to his profit.

Whenever I happened to be in government, in the Palace or in Congress, we’d come across each other, where we have something of common concern. But it was never for him, or for ourselves. It was always for others.

For some reason he never lost his idealism. I did long ago. I was surprised because he had lived in the most dangerous times and in the most dangerous places. I thought he didn’t aged. His enthusiasm and energy for the work that needed doing only increased with this commitment and disappointment, a disappointment he never complained about. So, it struck me like a knife blow to learn that my friend Wency had left us all. All that I have said here is just a way of talking around the subject that is impossible to talk about, about which I can only cry if tears did have not fail me in this loss.

To his family, he loved you, he lives for you, but he live most of all for its causes, for the people he cared about, for his country. Do not be disappointed that he shared his love with so much more, because in that capacity for greater love, you and even I, are included in the causes for the country he love the most. My deepest sympathy, my inexpressible sorrow for our loss. If will accept me, then in our shared grief, we are family. Wency could make things like that happen.

Sorry for your loss.

MODERATOR: When we return, we talk about the work and legacy of Wency Andanar to Muslim Filipinos and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Keep it right here on the Cabinet Report.

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WILLIE FERNANDEZ/FORMER COMMANDER, 7th MARINE BRIGADE, AFP: ‘Pag may party laging kumakanta, maganda boses. Sabi nga ng sister ko, “Naku namatay na pala iyong kaibigan mo, Frank Sinatra of the Philippines,” sabi niyang ganiyan. I really missed the guy.

Naglagay ako ng obit na one whole page eh. Noong binabasa ko early morning, kung mabasa ako ng Daily Tribune early eh together with other papers kinukumpara ko. I found myself crying… Pagbaba noong asawa ko, “Anong nangyari, bakit ka umiiyak?” Kasi bihira niya akong makitang ganiyan eh. Sabi ko, “Ngayong lang pumasok sa aking utak eh, na wala na pala si Wency.”

MODERATOR: Bukod sa industriya at mga magsasaka ng niyog, maging ang mga kapatid nating Muslim na Pilipino lalo na ang mga nasa Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao ay napagsilbihan ni Wency Andanar.

BARMM CHIEF MINISTER AHOD MURAD EBRAHIM: Actually si Atty. Wency, nagkakilala kami at the time when he was Undersecretary ng DILG with President Arroyo. Because at that time we have already our negotiation with the administration of President Arroyo so nagkakaroon na rin kami ng parang collaboration during that time of the negotiation.

BARMM PARLIAMENT SPEAKER PANGALIAN BALINDONG: We met in the late 90’s and—pero he was a frequent visitor of the Muslim area.

BARMM CHIEF MINISTER AHOD MURAD EBRAHIM: He’s deeply attached to the issue of Bangsamoro being a Muslim Filipino and he’s also a Muslim from Mindanao, he’s from Mindanao. Basically more kuwan siya doon nga sa progress in the BARMM because he had been exposed to the hardship, iyong situation ng BARMM region, very underdeveloped. So he is more interested on promoting the development of BARMM area kaya palaging nagkikita kami, palagi niyang sinasabi na we have to work together para at least we can improve the life of our people in the BARMM.

So when he was already designated with the current President, na-designate siya na Special Envoy to Malaysia, so nagkaroon kami ng parang collaboration in supporting BARMM especially on the economic aspect sa development na pag-mobilize ng mga investors from Malaysia para ma-attract sila na mag-invest sa BARMM area. So he have been—when we were already in the BARMM, so he was very actively collaborating with us.

RIZANI IRWAN MUHAMAD MAZLAN/DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION, EMBASSY OF MALAYSIA: We work together in ensuring so many activities in order to enhance the bilateral relation between Malaysia and Philippines not only in terms of people-to-people ties but also the economic ties and also the socioeconomic ties between the two countries.

My fond memories with Atty. Wency Andanar firstly, I think in 2018 – we managed to organize Philippine Investment Forum in Kuala Lumpur, you know. We worked together, it’s a very, very closed knitted collaboration between the Embassy of Malaysia in the Philippines, the Embassy of Philippines in Kuala Lumpur and also the Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

It was a very successful event, we managed to have about 300 participants during the forum and in fact the forum was also attended and officiated by one of the Deputy Minister of Special in Malaysia. I think besides that, if I would say… we had a lot of engagement together.

BARMM PARLIAMENT SPEAKER PANGALIAN BALINDONG: Lately, he visited the BARMM area, accompanying in the… he accompanied the Malaysian delegation.

RIZANI IRWAN MUHAMAD MAZLAN/DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION, EMBASSY OF MALAYSIA: Atty. Andanar’s recommendation and guidance, we would like to actually elevate the friendship to a more strategic relationship especially in the area of economic development and progress in that area of Cotabato and in Mindanao in general.

BARMM CHIEF MINISTER AHOD MURAD EBRAHIM: Nasasayangan nga siya na iyong BIMP-EAGA matagal na ito nabuo but it seems na hindi masyadong nag-progress. So sabi niya we have to work out na iyong BIMP-EAGA ay talagang ma-revive and then ma-promote natin ang trade relationship with the surrounding Muslim countries. So maraming beses niya itong nasasabi sa akin.

Well, he is a very sincere friend and sometime parang he… he is always act as a—parang fatherly advice, elder advice to us. So he always kuwan… so that is our relationship, it become—as time goes palagi kaming nagkikita so it becomes closer and closer. Parang nakikita ko na—kasi tuwing nag-uusap kami, he always give his advice so iyon ang kuwan, I will really remember him for that, to the ideas na naishi-share niya sa amin.

His vision for BARMM guided us also at saka nagbigay rin sa atin ng encouragement to really try our best to prosper in our administration especially in the transition period para makamit natin iyong development na pinapangarap niya sa BARMM. So that is where I always remember him.

RIZANI IRWAN MUHAMAD MAZLAN/DEPUTY CHIEF OF MISSION, EMBASSY OF MALAYSIA: We are saddened by the demise of our very good friend, good friend of Malaysia, Atty. Wency Andanar on the 22nd of April. It was indeed a big loss for Malaysia and Philippine relations.

WENCELITO ‘WENCY’ TAN ANDANAR: “I am very positive of the development of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao. There is already peace but there has to be development.”

“I agree with President Duterte, you have to reward Tawi-Tawi, develop Tawi-Tawi. That is it why it was his idea that the barter trade should be situated in Tawi-Tawi – to reward the very peaceful people of Tawi-Tawi. But of course it will radiate to Basilan, to Sulu, other areas in Mindanao. And eventually if we are successful in Bangsamoro, if we are prosperous, the prosperity will radiate to Mindanao and definitely to the entire Philippines.”

MODERATOR: Sa ating pagbabalik, pakinggan pa natin ang mga sangay ng pamahalaan na napagsilbihan ni Wency Andanar. Tutok lang sa Cabinet Report.

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MODERATOR: One of the underlying themes of Wency Andanar’s life of public service dealt with local government. From 1986 to 1988, he served at the local level as OIC-Governor of his home province of Surigao del Norte. After that, he assisted in the formulation of the law creating the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Much later, he would serve as Undersecretary of that Department.

FORMER PGMA: Well, first of all, we founded KAMPI together and as a legacy, KAMPI still exist up to today. It has been renamed as National Unity Party. But that is how it began in KAMPI. And Wency joined me in that party because he was a friend of Peping Cojuangco and one thing I learned about Wency is his loyalty. He was very, very loyal to Peping and then when he became my party mate and my ally, he became very, very loyal to me up to the day he died.

And then, when I became president of course, because he had been my loyal ally, I made him undersecretary of DILG. And there, I would say that the legacy that Wency left is a legacy of good, hard, silent work, reliable, not trying to be bida, but very, very solid work and I am very happy also about the simplicity of his lifestyle. You know his lifestyle, before and after he is being undersecretary of DILG was the same and I like that simplicity in Wency. So if he left a legacy, it was a legacy of a kind of service one should have as a public servant. Simple and not trying to catch the limelight all the time and as I said, his lifestyle was the same before and after his position. I think that is an important legacy that Wency left for all other aspiring public servants.

I remember him the first time, I think we ran together for senator in 1992 and how do I remember him, Wency as I said, a very loyal man, a very simple man. And I remember also he had some very important friendship, he was a friend of Peping, he was my friend, he was also a friend of Deputy Prime Minister Anwar [Ibrahim] of Malaysia and that served him well and served President Duterte well. Because of that he was made a special envoy just to keep the connections of the Philippines with that portion of Malaysian political powers there.

RONALD PUNO: I’d had a long friendship with Wency. That was also the time, when I was running for the presidency of the National Union of Students of the Philippines, NUSP. And Wency went around the country campaigning with me in the other schools as well. So that is where we got to know one another and developed our friendship.

Later on, after he had graduated from law, my father who was then minister of justice, took him as a special assistant in the Office of the Minister and I had recommended him because I told my dad that he was bright, he was hardworking and he was good with people. He got along well with everyone. So, when we went to the DILG finally, that was like, you know for him, coming home, kasi he joined DILG ahead of me, he became undersecretary while I was Congressman during that time. And then when I was tapped to become DILG Secretary, I requested for a few months grace period before I would leave Congress and I requested that he made the acting secretary. So for many months, he was acting secretary and we were constantly conferring, because he knew that I was the one already coming in.

So, during the DILG, he was in-charged of local governments and during that time, local government administration was in a very contentious situation. Those were the times when you know, local officials still didn’t accept the concept of being suspended. And then the DILG as an enforcing and implementing agency was tasked with suspending local officials who were suspended by either the Ombudsman or the Office of the President.

And they were very difficult instructions to carry out and Wency because he was undersecretary for Local Government was the one that had to do this. So you can imagine, he was the one that enforced the suspension order on Mayor Trinidad of Pasay. He was the one who enforced the suspension order on Mayor Binay of Makati and then the suspension order of Governor Tupaz of Iloilo and all of those became really big occasions which came out in the front pages. Maski local officials were resisting, physically, they would barricade provincial capitol and entrance. And Wency you know, combination of diplomacy and firmness of course, he had to deal with this. I put the PNP behind him and all of the local government personnel. But at the end of the day, all of these things need to be solved through diplomacy, you know, you cannot start hurting people when those situations come up.

And you know he was able to implement all of these things properly, peacefully and I don’t think anybody ever got angry with him for implementing these things, in spite of the fact that he would invade city hall or invade the provincial capitol. There are even a lot of footages from news of those days, when he implement the Iloilo suspension of Governor Tupaz and you know people running around city hall, you know, and it was a real mess. But Wency was able to keep it professional and keep it to the extent possible – civil and these things ended up with no one getting hurt. And that’s a testament to his diplomacy, his wisdom and his ability to deal with people in very difficult situation. So he was very important to me during the years that I spent with the DILG.

SEC. AÑO: Alam mo kapag naalala ko si Usec. Wencelito Andanar, naalala ko ang isang, hindi lang public servant, kung hindi isang kaibigan, isang family friend. Marami kaming pinagsamahan. Unang-unang nakilala ko si Usec. Wency Andanar at naging Ambassador Andanar din ay noong kami ay ipadala ng bansa para magsanay sa isang seminar training sa Israel, siya ang aming head of delegation. At doon ay magkakasama kami mula sa iba’t ibang ahensiya ng pamahalaan at ako bilang kinatawan ng Armed Forces of the Philippines.

I was just a young Lieutenant Coronel at that time assigned in an intelligence unit here in the National Capital Region. That’s the first time I met him. And nakita ko iyong kaniyang leadership bilang head of mission at lalo kaming nagkalapit sapagkat nakita ko iyong magandang ugali, paninindigan ni Usec. Andanar. Bagama’t ang aming training na iyon ay confidential, pero napakaganda na makasama mo ang isang katulad ni Usec. Wency Andanar.

Doon ko rin nalaman na siya pala ay isang undersecretary ng DILG at dahil sa kaniyang prinsipyo at kaniyang character ay doon ko napansin na napakapalad ng DILG na makasama siya bilang isang pinuno sa Kagawaran at hindi ko alam na balang araw pala ay mamumuno din ako sa naturang kagawaran. Ito ay napakagandang insight para sa akin at isa siya sa aking iniidolo sa paglilingkod bayan.

At dahil ako ay naging miyembro ng Gabinete, nagkalapit din kami ni Secretary Martin Andanar at palagi pa kaming nagkakausap pa rin ni Usec. Wency lalo na naging miyembro ako ng Gabinete. At kahit siya ay nahirang na isang ambassador sa mga special events, patuloy pa rin iyong pag-uusap, pagtatalakayan at pagkukumusta.

So para sa akin napakataas ng aking respeto, pagkilala kay Usec. Wency Andanar. Isa siya sa aking hinahangaan at masasabi kong tunay na salamin ng isang lingkod-bayan. Dangan nga lamang at nakakahinayang at siya ay pumanaw na pero asahan ni Usec. Wency Andanar na ang mga alaalang iniwan niya ay magsisilbing gabay kung papaano tayo maglingkod sa ating kapwa at kung papaano natin mabago ang buhay ng ating kapwa tungo sa mas magandang kalagayan.

MODERATOR: Up next, fellow public servants remember Wency Andanar. This is The Cabinet Report.

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PBGEN CRIZALDO NIEVES/PRO2 PNP: Nagsama po kami ni Sir Wency, nagkikita kami palagi—well sa mga—well Camp Crame, sa conferences being then the ano po, parang Admin Officer ako ni General Ike Galang eh. Ang nakita ko din sa kaniya, talagang very ano siya, very approachable. Alam mo being a junior officer at that time, siyempre ‘pag nakakasama mo mga matataas na posisyon, in-expect mo medyo magiging aloof ka.

But Sir Wency talagang very fatherly ang approach niya sa’yo lalung-lalo na nakita ko sa kaniya being a public servant, na ito iyong kailangan ng mga taumbayan, iyong humility nandoon, iyong being professional tapos more importantly iyong wisdom niya and fatherly ang approach sa mga junior officers.

So ang nakita ko dito, kaya nga I admire him, sabi ko ito ang gagawin ko doon sa ibang mga—how will I treat other officers, junior officers especially in the public. Alam mo kasi dito sa pagsisilbi natin eh kailangan talaga may puso ka saka you really [noisy background], iyon ang nakita ko doon kay Sir Wency.

BGEN. BENJAMIN ESPIRITU (RET)/FORMER COMMANDER, 7th MARINE BRIGADE, AFP: For me he was the epitome of a true public servant, bihira iyong ganiyan eh. And one of the things that I can say, I don’t think I say that to many, was that you know nobody can ask me about and unexplained wealth if at all what they can ask me about is unexplained poverty. Hindi honestly, kasi matinong tao ‘yan eh, hindi nagnakaw iyan eh and he had all the opportunities in the world – he did not. And for me, that for me is his enduring legacy.

So it’s not simply iyong—I mean it’s not the program but for me what a public servant should be. For me what was concrete was the technical assistance that he gave us in Mindoro because at that time, coconut was down. Secretary Dominguez was actually no longer in office eh at that time but Wency was still PCA Chairman. So doon talaga nagdala siya ng technical assistance, of planting materials… so that was something that I know of.

And then when he was at the Department of Local Government, he stressed strategic plans – this I can say ‘no. He was stressing that you should have strategic plans – clear plans about what you have to do, what are your plans for the next 3 years, what are your deliverables. And that’s critical because kung hindi parang nandoon ka na sa gobyerno, eh anong ginagawa mo diyan ‘di ba? Dapat maliwanag, so he was drawing out roadmaps.

He was sworn into office in 2001 as Undersecretary of Local Government for Peace and Order, iyon ang una niyang pinagawa eh. I know because we worked together – sa BJMP, sa Bureau of Jail Management, Bureau of Fire Protection… iyon ang—because that was his portfolio then eh, peace and order. So he was really for that because kailangan klaro tayo, ano bang gagawin natin?

So you had the roadmap, maliwanag iyong gagawin – may deliverables. He really had that and he had the planning sessions, I know that because I was the one who run the things. I mean I facilitated it for them and he believed in it and he stuck to it. Of course a lot of things Wency to do kasi para siyang ginagawang troubleshooter – problema dito, papadala siya doon. Marunong si Wency ha, he’s intelligent.

And one thing I can really say his heart was really for public service. Hindi nga pangnegosyo eh, he never talked about that and he had the opportunities. He wasn’t that, ang kaniyang serbisyo.

MODERATOR: Sa ating pagbabalik, pakinggan naman natin ang mga anak ni Wency Andanar.

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LIA ANDANAR YU: As I navigate this difficult time of mourning, slowly the nuggets of wisdom that have been passed on to me through the years are coming to light. And one of those would have to be and the enduring one, something that he repeated most especially during the past year and the past few months and in our last conversations was that whenever there’s an opportunity to serve, that I should always make the most of the opportunity.

One of the lessons which I hope I’m passing on to my children is the fact that we are all uniquely gifted and we are blessed in different ways, each and every one of us and when that opportunity to serve and to help someone else’s life become a bit better, that we should step up to it. And Papa was like that, I knew that even before the tributes came flooding in. I’m so grateful now when I see a bit of that in my children.

It’s something that I feel I will always remember especially in our conversations this previous year, he’s been telling me—he told me, “I know that you think this way and this is in your consciousness and in your awareness,” but he just made sure that I he would be able to tell me that giving back is something that is a value in this life.

ED ANDANAR: From a very young age, we were taught and always reminded you know – this is where you came from, you’re from Siargao, you’re from Cagayan de Oro, your Dad—his family is from a barrio in Siargao. And you know, even as a—he wasn’t a—he didn’t take it as a hindrance to achieving whatever he wanted to do in his life and I guess for us, you know the siblings, we grew up seeing that in front of us that you know, our Dad, he grew up in a barrio and he has managed to do well.

And I guess for us, we all felt that if he was able to do it, maybe we can do it too, we can achieve what he has achieved and I think that’s where all it comes from and it’s something that it is shared among the siblings, we have seen how our dad strived and achieved some feat in his life and I guess that’s why Mart and my sister and my other two siblings, we are all doing well in our chosen careers in our life. Also the people around him, you know, our tita’s and tito’s they were all saying, okay if your dad can do it, then you know, take it a notch higher. I got two kids, two young boys and it is one thing that I am trying to inculcate to them at the very young age.

And I tell them stories: “Your lolo when this happened to him or that happened to him, he still manages to bounce back and put up a positive spin around crisis or troubles in his lifetime.” Hopefully they get their grandfather’s fighting spirit and resilience and the positivity in life.

LIA ANDANAR YU: We had so many conversations this year. He was in a sense preparing us, his children that he was something that was in inevitable. So. I will always remember his positive attitude. He is pragmatic with, he needs to be and realistic. Two weeks before he passed, or was it a week, he could still speak clearly. I remember, when he answered the video call, he said Li, I’m closed to the finish line he said, I’m on my way to heaven. And that for us, is something really positive, every step of the way, I think he prepared me for when he would have to say goodbye, He had such a positive attitude, you can’t help but be glad for him. After we had our initial talk, he said, I am just going to listen. He said, I am just going to listen, you just talk because, mag-practice lang ko, he said, mag-practice ko resting in peace. Can you imagine, his sense of humor preparing us, but at the same time telling us, it’s gonna be okay, mag-practice lang ko.

So, although it’s never really easy to accept it. At the end of the day, what’s important is, all of us whoever knew him, whoever loved him, whoever respected him, who got to worked with him, who were able to share our lives with him, what I cherishing in my heart now is that it’s amazing that he knows that I loved him. I know that he loves us and he love each and every one of us and that he goes in peace.

ED ANDANAR: Last year and a half of his life, every time we had video call with him, he was always cheerful and you don’t see any sadness in him and that’s just the way Papa was. He was always positive in his view of life and whatever circumstances he is in. He was a great singer. And when I hear his songs and even now that he is no longer with us. I hear songs that he used to sing, it put a smile on my face and that’s I remember him through his music, his love of life, and again, it’s just his positivity towards life. The glass was always half full for him.

VOICE CLIP OF ATTY. ANDANAR: I have told him about my experiences before he became a cabinet member. But when he became cabinet member, I said, “Son you are on your own, I know that you can do it, especially the work assigned to you by the President, communications. I said you have two degrees and three majors all about communications. In Australia you are an honor student, in Asian Institute of Management. You took courses in Harvard, in Washington, I think you can be on your own and if need be, I will always be available. I am just a text away. I think he is better than me.”

MODERATOR: Pilipinas, iniwan na nga tayo ng isang natatanging public servant, katuwang ng magsasaka ng niyog, promoter of progress sa Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Advocate of local government, friend and family man.

Paalam at maraming salamat Wencelito Tan Andanar.

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