Former Senator Vicente T. Paterno passes away

Former Senator Vicente T. Paterno passed away this morning, November 21, 2014, at 8:36am. The wake starts tonight at 9:30pm at Santuario de San Antonio, Forbes Park, Makati City. We were informed by the family that in lieu of flowers, donations be given instead to Phil. Seven Foundation, Inc.

Mr. Paterno was a member of the NAMFREL National Council from 1986, when he was also NAMFREL chairman for the National Capital Region. In the run-up to the 1986 election, he was instrumental in turning branches of fast-food chain Wendy’s into NAMFREL assistance centers, where volunteer sign-up sheets were distributed, and where donations for NAMFREL volunteers were received. On February 8, 1986, he was a member of the NAMFREL panel during the infamous interview on national TV, which defended the continuation of NAMFREL’s historic parallel count, despite vicious opposition on-air. The incident fueled more support for the organization.

He was Founding Chairman of Philippine Seven Corporation, the local franchise holder of the 7-Eleven chain of stores. In 1986, he became Chairman of the Makati Business Club. From 1987 to 1992, he was Senator of the Republic of the Philippines, during which he was also Chairman of the Committee on Economic Affairs. A graduate of Mechanical Engineering from the University of the Philippines, he was chosen by UP in 2010 as one of the 100 Outstanding Engineers of the Century.

From 2008, Mr. Paterno became one of the prime movers of FSGO, or Former Senior Government Officials, an expert group of Filipinos who had served as senior officials at Cabinet and sub-Cabinet levels of the Philippine Government, and who speaks out against corruption in government and advocates a more professional conduct of government affairs. To quote their mission statement, “We propose actions marked by the discipline of managed effort with sound planning, efficient organization, and good execution...We want politics to serve our people, not just the politicians, so that our government truly becomes the servant of our common welfare and well-being, not the instrument of our oppressors and exploiters.”

On November 10 this year, NAMFREL honored him with the 2014 Bantay ng Bayan Award, “for his significant contribution towards the strengthening of the NAMFREL volunteer movement at its most crucial time; for his leadership not just in the business sector but also in government; and for continuously serving as a role model not just for ordinary citizens but also to those who aspire for public office.”

Mr. Paterno was a true statesman, and his passing is a significant loss to the country that he continued to serve until the very end.