BACOLOD CITY—It’s too late now.
The retired government prosecutor who had been pleading for his pension after 36 years in service is dead.
Marcelo del Pilar, 66, died of a heart attack at 11 a.m. on Thursday at the house of his daughter in Barangay Villamonte here, where he had been staying after his release from the hospital during Holy Week.
His wife, Teresa, said Marcelo died without getting his retirement fund, which could have saved his life.
She said her husband’s condition may have been aggravated by stress because their property in Bacolod was up for foreclosure and he had been delayed in paying his auto loan due to his mounting medical expenses.
Teresa said they had hoped his retirement fund could pay their mounting bills and save their property.
Marcelo was also hoping that the money would be able to pay for his much-needed heart bypass. The money never came.
Hour of need
“It is very sad that the government he served for so long failed him in his hour of need,” Teresa said.
Marcelo was acting prosecutor of Cadiz City in Negros Occidental when he retired on July 15, 2011, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 65, capping 36 years of government service.
In an interview with the Inquirer last month, Marcelo said he had hoped that his lump sum retirement fund would be enough for his bypass, which his cardiologist recommended after he suffered heart attacks in 2007 and 2010.
But just like more than 100 prosecutors nationwide who had retired since 2011, Marcelo didn’t receive his lump sum benefits. They were never told why.
For a year, Marcelo had to live on money borrowed from his children because of the rule that bars prosecutors from practicing law for a year after retirement.
He started private practice last year but on March 16, he had another heart attack.
After his release from the hospital on Holy Week, Teresa said she thought her husband’s health had improved.
His remains are now in his daughter’s home in Barangay Villamonte.
In March, presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda wrote the office of Justice Undersecretary Leah Tanodra Armamento to inquire about the delay in the release of prosecutors’ retirement pay when the Inquirer informed Lacierda’s staff about Marcelo’s plight.
Kristine Joanne Basa, executive assistant of Lacierda, quoted Armamento’s office as saying Marcelo’s case would be looked into and updates given.
When the Inquirer made a follow-up on Thursday, Basa said she has not received any reply from Armamento’s office.
Lacierda’s office offered to help Marcelo with his medical expenses through the Presidential Management Staff and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office. Marcelo, however, was not interested.
Teresa said her husband did not want the government to give him a dole out for his operation. “He wanted what was due him so he could pay for it himself,” she said.