Catholic leader hopes for more ‘Nenes’ among country’s political leaders
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY — As the late Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. is laid to rest Saturday, a Roman Catholic leader here has expressed hope emerging politicians would follow the path that he tread in the past, especially on standing up against repression.
Pimentel, according to Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, has shown the Filipino people the face of a principled leader and an effective public servant.
“He was an opposition during the time of martial law, which shows to the young people that working for righteousness and morality are still very important in public life,” Ledesma explained.
Ledesma noted that Pimentel did not bend down to the powers-that-be during the repressive rule of strongman Ferdinand Marcos, but instead chose to be on the dissenting side even if it meant being persecuted for what he believed in.
“I call him a steadfast warrior, [who followed] a straight path in serving our country. And he did not make any political compromises. In fact, he was imprisoned four times during the martial law days because he really stood and worked against authoritarianism,” Ledesma said.
The archbishop said he was optimistic that younger politicians and public servants would emulate Pimentel’s type of leadership.
“We hope there will be Nene Pimentels to arise,” Ledesma said, although he admitted that is elusive at present.
But, he added, there are local chief executives that have shown promise.
“We have young political leaders who are also conscientious. In fact, I would think that the new leaderships of cities like Manila or even here in Cagayan de Oro are examples of good governance,” he said.
Ledesma said he expected politicians to stand by what they believe in, as far as being a good public servant is concerned.
“I would call Nene a good example of a principled leadership. He stuck to his principles, and served our country with these,” he said.
Lito Lorenzana, a former government official, described Pimentel as a “classic freedom fighter.”
Divina Santaan, 48, a farmer and a barangay health worker from Tignapoloan village said that despite the absence of Pimentel in Cagayan de Oro after his term ended as mayor in 1984, the senator’s contribution to the city is still being felt by Cagayanons.
“We could not forget Nene Pimentel for constructing a building at the city hospital. He helped the hospital, built under the administration of mayor [Justiniano Borja],” Santaan said.
For Marinanisa Millada, 66, a vendor selling snack items, although she did not personally knew Pimentel, she said she was still thankful because of the Local Government Code which gave ordinary village folks a bigger voice in governance./lzb
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