By NITZ ARANCON
and JIGGER JERUSALEM
THE body of the late former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr. was brought to city hall for a two-day wake starting last night.
The late statesman’s body in a white coffin was flown in from the Senate aboard a C-295 twin-turboprop tactical military transport aircraft by the Air Force. It arrived at the Laguindingan airport in Misamis Oriental at around 4:50 pm yesterday, and was subsequently brought to city hall.
At the airport, a group of officials that included Mayor Oscar Moreno, Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy and some city councilors, waited for the arrival of the Air Force plane.
The wake of Pimentel, who had served as the 8th mayor of Cagayan de Oro city in the ’80s, will be at the tourism hall until tomorrow morning.
A mass would be officiated by Archbishop Ledesma at city hall tonight.
On Friday morning, Pimentel’s remains would be brought to the St. Augustine Cathedral where another mass would be officiated before the body of the late senator is flown back to Manila.
Pimentel, who died at 85 on Sunday, would be laid to rest at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, the Cagayan de Oro Press Club COPC) joined in mourning the death of Pimentel, one of the media organization’s incorporators. Pimentel, who wrote a column for the now defunct Mindanao Star, had been awarded a lifetime membership by the COPC, a privilege it normally grants only to its former presidents.
It was Pimentel who, as city mayor, signed an executive order that declared every 4th week of May as the Press Freedom Week in Cagayan de Oro, an act seen as a political statement against the martial law of the then president Ferdinand Marcos.
Since that signing of that order, the COPC and other media groups in the city have been observing the Press Freedom Week.
“Pimentel is remembered as a great statesman and a leader who fought for the restoration of democracy during the darkest hour of martial law in the ’70s and ’80s,” said COPC president Ritchie Salloman.
Meanwile, the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (Carmma) also mourned the passing away of Pimentel who they called as the “staunchest critic of the Marcos dictatorship.”
“He showed his steadfast commitment to the Filipino people during the martial law years of Marcos, and was jailed four times for opposing the Marcos dictatorship,” the group said.
“Ever vigilant, Sen. Nene Pimentel had been one with [Carmma] in opposing and exposing the attempts of the Marcoses to revise history and return back to power in Malacanang,” it said.
In memory of the deceased lawmaker, the group said it “pledges to continue the fight against the suppression of civil liberties and basic freedoms, against the return of the Marcoses to power, against the revisionism of the history of our people’s fight against the Marcos’ dictatorship and in pursuing a vision of a government that truly serves the people.”