Philippine politicians

Remembering Nonoy Andaya, the man unafraid to upset the powers that be

Mara Cepeda
Remembering Nonoy Andaya, the man unafraid to upset the powers that be

REST IN PEACE. Then-House committee on appropriations chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. leads a hearing on February 8, 2019.

Darren Langit/Rappler

(1st UPDATE) As lawmaker, Rolando Andaya Jr. was one of the anti-Estrada 'Spice Boys.' Later, he investigated a Duterte Cabinet official over alleged budget anomalies.

MANILA, Philippines – Former budget secretary and ranking House leader Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. died on Thursday morning, June 30, leaving behind memories of a man who had no qualms locking horns with the powerful and the influential.

Andaya’s children Ranton and Katrina confirmed their father’s “untimely” death through a post on his official Facebook page on Thursday. He was 53.

“We request for your fervent prayers for his eternal repose, and to allow us, his family, to grieve privately our loss,” said Andaya’s children.

They did not disclose their father’s cause of death, but an initial police report said he may have died of suicide. He was found dead in his bedroom in Naga City by his personal assistant, John Mark Patrick Señar.

Andaya’s wife Marissa, who had succeeded him as Camarines Sur 1st District representative in the previous 18th Congress, died of cancer in March 2020.

Andaya was a veteran politician hailing from one of Camarines Sur’s most prominent dynasties. He became the subject of headlines over the years due to several confrontations and word wars with his fierce rival, Camarines Sur 2nd District Representative Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte. Their beef would eventually spill over into the House of Representatives when they both served as congressmen in the 17th Congress.

Andaya started his career in government in 1996 at the Securities and Exchange Commission, before winning in 1998 his first term as Camarines Sur 1st District representative, a post previously held by his father and namesake.

Even as a neophyte lawmaker, Andaya already made sparks as an outspoken member of Congress. He was a former member of the so-called “Spice Boys” bloc that was openly critical of the administration of then-president Joseph Estrada. 

Andaya would then go on to win two more consecutive terms, serving in the 11th to 13th Congresses from 2001 to 2006.

Andaya’s third term was cut short, however, after then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo appointed him as chief of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) – a post also previously held by his father under the administration of their Lakas-NUCD-CMD party mate Fidel Ramos. Andaya Jr. would hold this position until 2010.

It was a tumultuous stint in the Arroyo Cabinet for Andaya, who was accused of receiving at least P255 million for projects of the Department of Agrarian Reform under the Priority Development Assistance Fund scam or pork barrel controversy. Andaya denied this. 

He also faced graft and malversation charges over his alleged involvement in the Malampaya fund scam during the Arroyo years.

Despite these controversies, Andaya managed to stage a comeback in the House of Representatives. He completed three more terms as Camarines Sur congressman from 2010 to 2019. 

Andaya eventually became majority leader in the House of Representatives in 2018, the year his ally Arroyo replaced then-House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in a controversial coup that outshone the State of the Nation Address of then-president Rodrigo Duterte.

As Arroyo’s lieutenant in the House, Andaya helped whip votes in favor of the administration’s pet bills. He would later be at the forefront of the clash between Congress and Duterte’s DBM chief Benjamin Diokno, after Andaya dug into the alleged anomalies involving the 2018 and 2019 national budgets prepared under his rival.

Andaya then tried seek the gubernatorial post in the 2019 elections, but he lost to reelectionist Miguel Luis Villafuerte, son of LRay. Andaya tried a second time in the 2022 elections, but he lost the race to Miguel Luis’ younger brother Luigi.

In the 2022 polls, Andaya strongly campaigned for the presidential bid of his fellow Bicolano, former vice president Leni Robredo.

Tributes

In statement on Friday, July 1, former president Arroyo paid tribute to her former budget secretary.

“My family and I join those who mourn the death of Former DBM Secretary and Former Congressman Rolando ‘Nonoy’ Andaya Jr. Nonoy was an indispensable and trusted member of our Official Family as he headed the Department of Budget and Management for four years,” she said.

“As my colleague in Congress, he was an important ally who showed his meticulousness and dedication when he played a major role in cleaning up and fixing the National Budget. He was kind and down-to-earth, a good friend to many, and well-respected by his peers. The Bicol region has lost another son it can definitely be proud of,” she added.

Arroyo’s son, former Camarines Sur 1st District representative Dato Arroyo also paid tribute to Andaya.

“Nonoy Andaya was perhaps the biggest influence among the mentors I had in my 9 years in Congress. He would always keep himself updated with everything I did, and would always be available whenever I asked for advice; but he would never dictate to me what actions I should take. He let me grow into my own brand of public service, and he was always proud of my success,” Arroyo said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

The Marcos administration’s budget secretary, Amenah Pangandaman, paid tribute to Andaya and expressed her condolences to his family in a statement on Friday, July 1.

“Dedicated to serving the Filipino people, former Sec. Andaya is known for his competent, selfless, and dedicated public service. During his tenure, he instituted reforms to strengthen DBM’s services. May we all remember his passion and upstanding trait as a leader and public servant,” she said.

“To his family, I wish you comfort, courage, and strength during this time of sorrow. Sec. Andaya, thank you for your service. Let it be known that you have made your mark in the history of our country. May you rest in peace, former Sec. Andaya,” she added. – Rappler.com

The Department of Health has a national crisis hotline to assist people with mental health concerns. The hotline can be reached at 1553 (landline); 0966-351-4518 and 0917-899-USAP (8727) (Globe/TM); and 0908-639-2672 (Smart/Sun/TNT). For regional helplines, click here.

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.