Mindanao awaits homecoming of illustrious son
Updated @ 11:33 p.m., Oct. 20, 2019
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Misamis Oriental, Philippines — Residents of this capital city of Misamis Oriental await the arrival of its most illustrious son, the late freedom fighter and Senate leader Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.
His remains are scheduled for public viewing at the City Hall here from Wednesday afternoon until Friday morning, as announced by his son Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
The older Pimentel started what became a remarkable political career in this province as its representative in the Constitutional Convention of 1971.
He also served as mayor of this city from 1980 to 1984, and it was during these stints that he shaped his argument for the transfer of a greater bulk of political power from the central to the local governments.
“The people of Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental would be especially honored to pay our last respects and to give a tribute to Senator Nene … as I am sure that our neighbors here in Mindanao would also join us,” said the city’s mayor, Oscar Moreno.
“He was a great statesman, a true Mindanaoan, and we in Cagayan de Oro are proud of our native son,” said Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
Flags at half-staff
“We owe to him the Local Government Code. Mindanao has just lost one of her cherished sons,” said Zia Alonto Adiong, a member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority. “Democracy would not have been restored in the country [were] it not for the fearless few like Sen. Nene Pimentel who fought tooth and nail to bring freedom back [to] the people.”
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año directed all local governments to fly their flags at half-staff in honor of Pimentel.
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano cited Pimentel for his “long-standing service to the country guided by his steadfast integrity and nationalism.”
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said: “I feel like I lost a close relative and not just a friend. I was his majority leader when he was Senate President, and we were very close. He was my idol.”
A “maverick who could not resist a good fight, many of which by his lonesome,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto described the late senator.
Detained opposition Sen. Leila de Lima said Pimentel was a “defender of democracy, [who] will be remembered for how he fought the martial law dictatorship, at the expense of his own freedom.”
In Malacañang, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles and presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo praised Pimentel for being “a true public servant.”
His ally in the anti-Marcos struggle and former Senate colleague, human rights lawyer Rene Saguisag, called Pimentel a “gem of purest ray serene.”
“He focused on serving the people in all his decades of public service,” Saguisag said. “Not self, but country was the many-splendored fixed star he went by.”
Former Vice President Jejomar Binay—another comrade in the anti-Marcos struggle—said: “More than a senator, Nene was a friend. We… fought alongside each other on issues that will protect our people and promote progress.”
In a statement, Vice President Leni Robredo said: “Standing up to the dictator [Ferdinand] Marcos during martial law, asserting Philippine sovereignty during the debates for the renewal of the US bases treaty, running as [vice president] to an eminently qualified but underfunded Jovito Salonga in 1992, taking the principled position as Senate President during the Estrada impeachment trial — these are the moments that will forever define [Pimentel’s] place in our people’s history.”
—With reports from Erwin Mascariñas, Divina Suson, Leah Agonoy, Jigger J. Jerusalem, Bong Sarmiento, Jhesset O. Enano, Dexter Cabalza, Julie M. Aurelio, Dj Yap, Marlon Ramos and Jeannette I. Andrade
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