Jose de Venecia Jr.

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Jose Clavería de Venecia, Jr. also known as JDV or Joe De V (b. December 26, 1936) is the former Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was also president of the dominant party, LAKAS-CMD. He ran for president in the 1998 Philippine general elections but lost to then Vice President Joseph Estrada, finishing second in a field of 11 candidates. De Venecia was one of the 1974 The Outstanding Young Men of the Philippines (TOYM) Awardees.

He represented the 4th District of Pangasinan and served as Speaker of the House in the 9th (1992-1995), 10th (1995-1998), 12th (2001-2004), and 13th (2004-2008) Philippine Congress. He is the third Filipino who held the Speakership twice in a separate terms after former Speakers Jose B. Laurel and Cornelio Villareal.

Early life and career

De Venecia was born in Dagupan City, Pangasinan to Judge Jose R. de Venecia, Sr., and Casimira Villamil Clavería. In 1947, he finished his elementary studies at the Dagupan Elementary School where he was accelerated by one year. Then in 1951, he completed his secondary education at the La Salle College High School. He graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University in 1955.

As an entrepreneur, De Venecia pioneered overseas contract work for Filipinos as one the first Philippine prime contractors in the Middle East and North Africa in the mid-1970s. He hired 51,000 Filipinos for his companies and engaged in port operations in Saudi Arabia, agriculture in Africa, and mass housing and oil exploration in the United Arab Emirates. His Middle East initiative was followed by others and later led to the employment of millions of Filipinos. In the 1970s, he initiated an oil and gas exploration program that led to the first oil and gas strikes in offshore Palawan. He was elected president of the Petroleum Association of the Philippines.

De Venecia was a diplomat as Minister-Economic Counselor from 1966 to 1969. He conceived and implemented the historic dollar-remittance program for Overseas Filipino Workers worldwide.

Entry to Politics

De Venecia came from an influential political family. His grandfather, Guillermo de Venecia, was the municipal president (now known as mayor) from 1916 to 1918 and from 1925 to 1926. He ran and won as congressman of the 2nd District of Pangasinan from 1969 to 1972. After the restoration of the House of Representatives in 1987, he ran and won as congressman of the 4th District of Pangasinan.

He was reelected in 1992 and joined the newly created party Lakas Tao of then President Fidel Ramos. He initiated the move to unite the National Union of Christian Democrats—a cluster of the Progressive Party of the Philippines and the Union of Muslim Democrats—with Lakas Tao to make it a dominant party. In the same year, he was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives. Since Ramos got a low plurality in the elections, De Venecia created a "Rainbow Coalition", converging political parties that include the LDP, NPC, Lakas NUCD, and other minor parties to make a solid majority in the House. He was reelected as congressman and Speaker in 1995.

Peace Envoy

As Ramos’ peace envoy, Speaker de Venecia reached out to insurgent groups such as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) secessionists in Mindanao, the RAM-SFP-YOU military rebels, and the Communist Party of the Philippines which operates the New People’s Army (NPA). He crossed Africa’s Sahara Desert twice to meet the Libyan President Moammar Qaddafi and MNLF Chairman Nur Misuari and assisted in forging a peace agreement in Tripoli in 1976. His persuasion of Misuari to accept autonomy led to the signing of the peace pact on September 2, 1996.

In 1992, de Venecia began secret talks with leaders of the military rebels, led by Commodore Calajate, Gen. Abenina, and Col. Gringo Honasan, which led to a ceasefire in December of that year and a final peace agreement in 1995. In April 1997, De Venecia journeyed to the Netherlands to meet with self-exiled leaders of the National Democratic Front and New People’s Army led by Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni. He was the first Christian leader to enter Mindanao’s Camp Abubakar mountains in November 1997 and open breakthrough peace negotiations with Hashim Salamat, Chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and military Commander Murad.

1998 Presidential Election

In 1998, the dominant party Lakas-NUCD-UMDP held a convention to select Ramos' successor as party president and candidate for the May 11 election. A long list of candidates was trimmed down to a choice between de Venecia and then Department of National Defense Secretary Renato de Villa. Though De Villa was seem as the frontrunner, De Venecia won the convention vote and De Villa bolted the party to form a new one called Partido Reporma.

De Venecia garnered the 2nd highest number of votes in a field of 11 candidates, though he was far behind the winner, Joseph Estrada. After he lost his bid, he departed from media attention and the political limelight. In one of his interviews, De Venecia said that he was depressed and took several months to recover.

Reentry into Politics

De Venecia reemerged on New Year's Day of 2001 calling for a smooth transition of power to then Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Estrada belittled de Venecia's statements; however, he was ousted January 20 of that year. In the 2001 election, De Venecia won without opposition as congressman of the 4th district of Pangasinan. He was reelected overwhelmingly by the House including some of the critical left-wing partylist representatives. In 2003, he received an unexpected high commendation from the public when he accepted the Supreme Court ruling that junked the petition for the impeachment of the Chief Justice. In the 2004 election, he became instrumental in Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's victory as president. He also won by a landslide as congressman and he was reelected as Speaker for the fourth time.

Personal life

De Venecia married Victoria Perez and had 4 children: Alexandra (Sandra), Leslie, Vivian, and Jose III (Joey). Their marriage, however, ended in a divorce, and Perez now lives in the U.S. in Albany, New York. He later married Georgina Vera-Perez, daughter of Filipino classic film producer Jose Vera Perez. They have two children: Christopher and Kristina Cassandra (KC). Georgina, also known as Manay Gina, was previously married to construction manager Felipe Cruz with whom she had 2 children. She is currently a social worker and a radio host. She used to host a TV drama series.

On December 17, 2004, De Venecia's house in Dasmariñas Village caught fire. His 16-year-old daughter KC was trapped inside and died of suffocation. KC's body was found in a bathtub. None of the De Venecia family's belongings were recovered. De Venecia was forced to borrow clothes and shoes from other members of the House of Representatives and reside in a nearby hotel. KC's remains were cremated and her ashes were buried at the Santuario de San Antonio Parish.

Affiliations

  • Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians’ Union, Former president
  • Association of Southeast Asian Nations Inter-Parliamentarians Forum, Former president
  • Foundation for an Asian Parliament, Founding chairman
  • Global Foundation for Christian-Muslim Partnership, Founding chairman

References

  • Resume/CV of Jose de Venecia(Accessed on May 12, 2009)
  • Jose de Venecia in Wapedia (Accessed on May 12, 2009)
  • The biography of Jose de Venecia Jr.(Accessed on May 12, 2009)
  • Personal Information of de Venecia(Accessed on May 12, 2009)

Categories

  • Philippine presidential candidates
  • Philippine Achievers
  • Speakers of the Philippine House of Representatives
  • TOYM Awardees