Koko Pimentel’s Mati oath-taking draws praises, puns

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/12 August) — Ace lawyer Aquilino Pimentel III’s decision to take his oath as senator in Mati, Davao Oriental Friday drew mixed reactions from local opinion makers here.

Vice Mayor Cesar Ian Acenas said that Cagayanons would understand why Pimentel opted not to take his oath of office here since he obtained a huge vote in Mati.

“It’s the senator’s right, I presume that he gathered huge vote in Mati, which he owes to the people of Mati. That’s why he ought to take his oath there,” Acenas said Thursday evening.

“What is important is that he will render genuine public service to the Filipino people in general being a senator of this country, in Mindanao being a Mindanaoan in particular and of course to his constituents here in Cagayan de Oro. Good luck and God bless to the senator,” he added.

In the 2007 senatorial elections, Juan Miguel Zubiri topped the vote in Misamis Oriental and in this city.

In an online interview Thursday, local legal luminary Titus Velez said that it is the new senator’s prerogative, although long-time residents here could not help but frown on his decision.

“I really don’t mind although some of my long-time friends are disheartened by the thought. It is really his decision.” he said.

Ruben Vegafria, former president of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry and head of Promote CdO Foundation, for his part, felt that Pimentel’s decision has let down fellow Cagayanons.

“It’s sad for someone who claimed to be a Cagayanon to honor a place other than his own,” he said Thursday.

Through text messages, Cagayan de Oro Press Club executive vice president Bingo Alcordo agreed that it was Pimentel’s decision and that it would not matter where he took his oath of office because he had never been considered a son of the city.

“That’s Koko’s prerogative. Besides, he is never identified as a Cagayanon. He literally grew up in Manila and finds it difficult to speak straight Cagayanon,” said Alcordo.

While Konsumanteng Kagay-anon Incorporated president Michael Banos was more blunt in his text reply when asked how he felt about Pimentel’s decision.

“Pakialam ko sa kanya (I don’t mind him),” his text message read.

Today at high noon, Pimentel took his oath as a senator replacing Juan Miguel Zubiri who resigned last week over allegations he benefited from cheating in the 2007 elections.

Davao Oriental Gov. Corazon Malanyaon administered the oath-taking ceremonies at the provincial capitol’s covered court. On Thursday afternoon, the Senate Electoral Tribunal proclaimed Pimentel at the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City.

In a text message Thursday, Jerome Soldevilla, president of the Cagayan de Oro Chamber said that locals should just take pride in the Cagayanon senator.

“He is a senator of the Philippines and not [just] of Cagayan de Oro. It is his prerogative to choose where he wants to take his oath for as long as it is in the Philippines. We take pride of course that there is a Kagay-anon in the Senate,” Soldevilla’s text message read.

“For whatever reasons, (Cagayanons) should take pride in having a senator coming from CdO. We respect Senator Pimentel’s choice of Mati. What matters most is how he will perform as a senator and sustain the honor and pride of being a Cagayanon and Mindanaoan,” it continued.

Emil Rana, head of the local office of the Department of Interior and Local Government Office, said in a phone interview Thursday that only Pimentel would know what is in his best interest and that Cagayanons ought to respect it.

“No problem and we respect with dignity the oath-taking of Senator Koko Pimentel in Mati, Davao Oriental and he knows what is (in the) best interest of his office. Notable is, he hails from Cagayan de Oro City, Mindanao. God bless him in all his works in the Senate. Our prayers and congratulations,” he said. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)