(Eulogy delivered by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III at the necrological service for former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. at the Senate on 23 October 2019. Pimentel passed away on Sunday, October 20, at the age of 85).
If Social Justice, Courage and the crafting of Laws were to assume a human form, in all probability, that person would be Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.
For Social Justice, he formed the PDP-Laban Party – to advocate societal and structural reforms for the uplift of the common man. His views are progressive, which is only right, for the history of our country fated us to lose our territory when the Spaniards laid their eyes on our lands and declared them as owned by the King of Spain.
For Courage, he demonstrated his willingness to risk life and liberty during the tumultuous 70’s up to the early 80’s — dangerous times when he perceived a tendency of government to attain full control of the state. He wore his several imprisonments record as a badge of honor in the service of the poor, the downtrodden and the victims of state power.
For Laws, he authored many, including the landmark Local Government Code that devolved power to the local government units, thus assuring that funds would trickle down to those most in need. He was also the spirit behind the crafting of the basic law on Muslim Mindanao, searching for that elusive mix of retention of Muslim values and integration of the Muslim community with the larger national interest. He was at the forefront of the discussion and debate towards the adoption of the federal form of government.
Senator Nene Pimentel was always accommodating whenever his wise counsel was sought which I benefited from as early as 1992 and he would dedicate precious hours to enlightening the Senate staffs on various issues. A few weeks before his death, he still managed to lend his presence in these parts though already needing a wheelchair for mobility.
I have earlier confessed that if I have any familiarity with the whys and wherefores of serving my colleagues in the Senate, I would attribute it to the experience of working with a number of my models and icons in public service in this chamber. Right there in the group of my top mentors would be Senate President Nene Pimentel, whose humility, simplicity of style, and decorum make us all proud that we are his friends. To him the term statesman would be more appropriate, rather than politician. He was in the mold of old school scholarliness and fervor, akin to a Filipino Thomas More.
Senate President Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr., was one Senator whom we expected to see every now and then in our premises. He felt at home here, in the ambience of debate and proposing laws for the benefit of the people. Today he comes back to the Senate for the last time. He will be greatly missed. He had been a leading light of this chamber, not only in good times, but more so during its trials and darkest moments.
On behalf of the Senate, and of the Sotto family, and in a manner of speaking, in behalf of the Filipino people too, may I extend to the bereaved family of Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr., our most heartfelt condolences, most especially to the great Lady Mrs. Bing Pimentel, Senate President Koko Pimentel, Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana, Maripet Pimentel-Brar, Jac Pimentel, Terelou Pimentel and Inde Pimentel-Borghijs. May you all be comforted by the thought that Senate President Nene Pimentel is dearly loved by one and all in this nation, and congratulate you for having had a loving husband and father, thanking you for sharing him with the people of the Philippines, and his legacy of Social Justice, Courage and the Laws he sponsored. Senate President Nene Pimentel, Jr., salamat po sa pamanang kaisipan na ngayon ko lang nabatid – “Puede naman palang pumasok sa pulitika, at mamaalam ng marangal pa rin.” Paalam po.