Senators honor Nene Pimentel’s life work

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, joined by wife Helen Gamboa, leads his peers in handing over Senate Resolution 168 to his family, led by his widow Lourdes “Nanay Bing” Pimentel, and son Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. The resolution honored the late former Senate leader and constitutionalist, and expressed deep sympathy to his family.

WITH his widow’s newly composed song playing in the background as his casket was escorted into the session hall, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Q. Pimentel Jr. returned Wednesday morning to the place where he had worked for 18 years. Past and present senators held necrological services hailing a democracy icon whose political career of over five decades straddled both dissenting and setting up the building blocks for a progressive, equitable nation.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III led seven other senators in recalling the best of Pimentel’s life and work, citing among others Pimentel’s legislative legacy as father of the 1991 Local Government Code and the enactment of the Organic Act creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Members of the Philippine Marines carry the casket of former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Q. Pimentel Jr. into the Senate building on Wednesday for the necrological service attended by past and incumbent senators

Pimentel, 85, died last Sunday (October 20) due to pneumonia and lymphoma complications. A statement sent to Senate media said his remains will be flown to his hometown in Cagayan de Oro after Wednesday’s Senate necrological rites but will be brought back to Manila by Friday.

In simple rites, Senate President Sotto III presented to the Pimentel family a Resolution expressing the Senate’s “profound sympathy and sincere condolences” that was
coauthored by all senators. Senate Resolution 168 was received by his son and namesake, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on behalf of his mother, Lourdes or “Nanay Bing,” and sisters—Human Rights Commissioner Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana, Ma. Petrina, Teresa and Lorraine—and brother Aquilino IV.

Resolution 168 also gave credit to the late Senate President Pimentel Jr.’s achievements as former ranking official who alternately served both the Executive Department and the Legislature.

The Senate Resolution affirmed  “the Honorable Aquilino ‘Nene’ Quilinging Pimentel Jr. [was] a distinguished public servant, a fearless human-rights lawyer, parliamentarian, and legislator, a staunch defender of democracy, a family-oriented and religious man, and the Father of the Local Government Code.”

Moreover, Resolution 168 cited Pimentel’s sterling public service “in his almost five decades of illustrious and unblemished career as a public servant,” having served the government in various capacities.

“Thank you for helping him achieve his vision and goals as a legislator. Because of your support, he has left landmark legacies such as the Local Government Code and the Cooperative Code of the Philippines, among others,” Sen. Koko Pimentel said in his response to the eulogies.

“Public service was his passion, working on landmark legacies fulfilled him and made him happy. Thank you for working with him to realize his dream of a fairer, democratic and productive Philippines,” he added.

At one point, the younger Pimentel broke down and, between sobs, said, “We don’t want this [passing of a loved one] to happen, but it will happen and it has happened…That is life.”

Among his father’s best lessons for his children was that while people have no control of when they are born or die, “all we have control of is how we live our life,” and this summed up why the late senator inspired his children to do their beast.

In his eulogy, Sotto said Pimentel served as his mentor and was always accomodating whenever his counsel was needed.

“His humility, simplicity in style and decorum make us all proud that we were his friends. He will be greatly missed. He had been a leading light of this Chamber, not only in good times but also during trials and darkest moments,” Sotto said.

Equally emotional during the necro-logical service was Sen. Pia Cayetano who considered Pimentel as a father figure and a mentor.

“Tito Nene did great things, there is no doubt of that. But for me and those who knew him well, we remember him for the small things. For what is greatness without kindness? Without humility and compassion? Traits I saw in my mentor and seatmate. Beyond the brilliant legislator and defender of democracy that he was, I got to know a kind and gentle person,” a tearful Cayetano said in her eulogy.

For her part, Sen. Risa Hontiveros called Pimentel one of the country’s finest statesmen.  She said Pimentel protected and defended the country and would have made a good president.

Former Sen. Jose Lina Jr. said the Philippines has lost a great Filipino and statesman who championed freedom, human rights and the pursuit of excellence in local governance.

Former Sen.  Rene Saguisag, who was a human-rights lawyer during martial law, recalled his time with Pimentel when they both fought for democracy and a better government.

Like Sotto, former Sen. Orlando Mercado said Pimentel was his mentor and was actually the first to call for a total log ban. And yet, when Mercado took a strong stand on the issue, Pimentel fully supported him and did not mind about who gets credit.

“Nene Pimentel was a happy warrior. He lived long enough to nurture our civil liberties that he fought for and which he had been jailed. He will remain in our history as an indomitable comrade in the struggle against the dictatorship and a champion of good local governance,” former Senator Heherson Alvarez said.

Former Sen. Anna Dominique Coseteng said Pimentel helped shaped her views in her private life and work. She said Pimentel embodied the values of a nationalist and a warrior and that she was proud to have known him.

Also present during the necrological service were Former President Joseph Estrada, former Vice President Noli de Castro, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, Ronald dela Rosa, Christopher Lawrence Go and former Senators Alfredo Lim, John Osmeña, Eddie Ilarde, Robert Jaworski, Loi Estrada, Ramon Magsaysay Jr. and Wigberto Tañada.

The story of a nation

Much of the nation’s story the past half century may be gleaned from Pimentel’s life.

He first served as a Delegate to the 1971 Constitutional Convention representing Misamis Oriental; mayor of Cagayan de Oro City (1980 to 1984); Batasang Pambansa Assemblyman (1984 to 1986); and Secretary of the Ministry of Local Government in concurrent capacity as Presidential Adviser and Chief Negotiator with the Muslim rebels (1986 to 1987).

As a member of the 8th Senate in 1987, Pimentel Jr. crafted significant laws, including the Organic Act of the Local Government Code, until 1992. He was elected to a new six-year term for the 1998 to 2004 Congress and served his third and last term from 2004 to 2010. His last government post was as member of the Consultative Commission which President Duterte created in 2018 to review the 1987 Constitution.

Pimentel Jr. was elected by his colleagues  in two crucial positions: as the Senate President from November 13, 2000, to June 30, 2001; and as Senate Minority Leader from 2004 to 2010 and July 23, 2001, to June 3, 2002.

During his term as Senate President, the Senate registered an impressive record in terms of laws enacted, notably including the Public Employment Service Office Act (1999); Early Childhood Care and Development Act; the General Banking Law (2000); Electronic Commerce Act (2000); Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (2000); and the Sports Benefits and Incentives Act (2001).

Image credits: Roy Domingo


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