By FROILAN GALLARDO
Special Correspondent .
THE body of the late Archbishop Emeritus Jesus Tuquib had been placed in a poor man’s casket until a rich parishioner bought the dead senior member of the Roman Catholic clergy an expensive one.
Tuquib was laid to rest at the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral compound here yesterday morning.
Fr. Cerilo Isnani, Tuquib’s constant companion, said the body of the archbishop emeritus was in an expensive white coffin that was given by an unnamed parishioner.
Isnani said the first casket that had the remains of Tuquib was a “poor man’s coffin” until the donation came.
Archbishop Antonio Ledesma led the Mass attended by five other Mindanao bishops who all praised Tuquib for his 18-year watch of the local Roman Catholic archdiocese.
Ledesma lauded Tuquib for successfully preventing the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) from operating a casino at the now defunct Pryce Plaza overlooking Cagayan de Oro.
Believing that the casino “gradually and surely destroy the positive and moral values” of the Cagayan de Oro residents, Ledesma said, the late prelate instructed all those under the archdiocese to rally people to the streets.
Over 15,000 parishioners joined the march to Pryce Hotel on June 15, 1993, according to Msgr. Tex Legitimas, then the vicar general of the Cagayan de Oro archdiocese.
Legitimas said Tuquib and the late Cagayan de Oro mayor Pablo Magtajas led parishioners in marching up the hill of Pryce Plaza hotel to show their resolve.
He said Tuquib later sent a letter to the then president Fidel Ramos reminding him that Pagcor “should operate in areas where there is public acceptance.”
Ramos relented and ordered Pagcor to stop its plan to operate a casino in Cagayan de Oro.
“That was Tuquib’s legacy to Cagayan de Oro which until today has remained a casino-free city,” Ledesma said.
In 2001, Tuquib also figured prominently in the protest marches against the then president Joseph Estrada over accusations of corruption. Estrada was subsequently forced to step down.
Tuquib was the first Filipino archbishop of Cagayan de Oro. The two previous archbishops of Cagayan de Oro, James Hayes and Patrick Cronin, were foreigners.
Following tradition, Tuquib was buried alongside the graves of Cronin and Hayes at the back of the cathedral.