Sen. Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel Jr. 1933-2019

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - October 22, 2019 - 12:00am

Last Sunday I heard the sad news that former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., one of our good friends and political allies against the Marcos Dictatorship passed away at 85 years of age. This was first reported in the social media network by his son Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. He was apparently sick with lymphoma cancer. I have known Nene Pimentel for a long time especially that he was close to my mentor, the late Sir Max Soliven and told him that he was happy that The STAR had a Cebuano columnist who could understand his native Cebuano tongue.

I submit that it was for many long years of knowing Nene Pimentel that made me decide that Federalism was the right political system for the Philippines as it would address one of the biggest issues prevailing at that time… the issue on languages. He always told me that when Spain colonized the Philippines, Spanish was taught in schools and so when the Americans came, English was now the medium of instruction. So when we were given independence by the Americans on July 4,1946, pro-Tagalog nationalists suddenly pounced on the language issue and wanted Tagalog to be the national language to the detriment of Cebuano which had more speakers than Tagalog. Of course those so-called nationalists tried to change Tagalog into Pilipino, which as our readers know is 99.9 percent taken from Tagalog.

Sen. Pimentel was on the right track in our political history when he was elected senator in 1987 and served until 1992. He again served from 1998 to 2010. He was elected Senate president from 2000 to 2001 during when he presided over the impeachment trial of then president Joseph Estrada. He also founded Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) in 1982, which later merged in 1986 with Lakas ng Bayan. Among the landmark bills he authored were the Local Government Code, creation of the Philippine Sports Commission, and creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. This is why he is called The Father of the Local Government Law.

The Duterte administration is grateful to Pimentel for joining the consultative committee (Concom) formed by Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution and propose amendments that would lead to the establishment of a federal government. The Commission on Human Rights, where Pimentel’s daughter Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana is commissioner remembers the late Sen. Pimentel as “a human rights champion who emphasized the primacy of rule of law and respect for the Constitution and recognized special protection needed for the poor, disadvantaged and marginalized.”

Indeed, we have lost a true patriot, a freedom fighter, and a champion of democracy, human rights and local governance characteristics of a great Filipino politician who made many people proud of our country. With the loss of Sen. Nene Pimentel, we have lost the old guard of Philippine politics.

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Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte suffered slight injuries in an accidental fall from a 650 cc Kawasaki motorcycle at the Presidential Security Group compound at Malacañang. I saw the video shots taken during that very short ride, which was not even a fast ride in his official residence at the Bahay Pagbabago. I haven’t been riding for two months since my cataract operation, hence when I ride again I have to ensure that my safety is always paramount. I’m sure that Pres. Duterte took all necessary steps for a safe ride, but then accidents do happen.

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We’ve not heard of any robberies in Metro Cebu lately, but last Saturday evening, armed suspects pounced at the J Center Mall in Mandaue City wounding one security guard and the robbers stole jewelry and cash from the establishments they raided. By Sunday morning, we learned from the social media network that four of 15 suspects of the robbery were killed during hot pursuit operations in Bogo City, a hundred kilometers north of Mandaue City. Wow! Kudos to the quick reaction by the Police assigned in Cebu Province.

Three of the suspects were killed in Bogo City while another was killed in Sogod located three towns away. Bogo and Sogod are in northern Cebu. In Bogo, the police intercepted seven men on board a beige Innova at the checkpoint at the Polambato wharf at around 11 p.m. Saturday after the seven reportedly matched the descriptions of the suspects that fled J Centre Mall after the robbery.

By Monday’s newspaper reports, it seems that the suspected robbers all come from Misamis Oriental. With this information, we can only suspect that they are most probably remnants of the old Kuratong Baleleng gang that used to do a lot of robberies in Cebu City and they all return to the comfort of Ozamiz City. So has the Kuratong Baleleng returned to a life of crime?

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Email: vsbobita@mozcom.com or vsbobita@gmail.com

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