South Cotabato board member succumbs to COVID-19

Sangguniang Panlalawigan ex-officio member Wilson Paclibar, president of the Philippine Councilors League – South Cotabato chapter, succumbs to COVID-19 on 23 May 2021. Photo from FB page of the South Cotabato provincial government

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 24 May) – South Cotabato officials are mourning the passing of a provincial board member who succumbed on Sunday night to complications from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Philippine flags were flown at half-staff Monday morning at the provincial capitol and other offices in the province following the demise of ex-officio board member Dr. Wilson Paclibar, an incumbent councilor of Tantangan town and provincial president of the Philippine Councilor’s League (PCL).

South Cotabato Vice Gov. Vicente de Jesus said the 46-year-old official expired at 8:26 p.m. Sunday while undergoing treatment for critical COVID-19 at the Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center here.

He said Paclibar was admitted at the facility several days after coming out positive of the disease in Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction testing on May 11.

Paclibar, who last attended a virtual session of the provincial board on May 10, initially had cough and fever but his symptoms progressed from moderate to severe and later turned critical, de Jesus said.

“He was fighting up to the last moment. But his body eventually gave way as 70 percent of his lungs were already attacked by the virus,” de Jesus said in a radio interview.

He said they never expected Paclibar’s situation to turn worse as the latter was considered physically fit and had no known comorbidity.

De Jesus said the late official was very conscious with his personal safety and protection, and among those who pushed for the holding of their sessions on virtual mode due to the continuing pandemic.

Paclibar, whose remains were immediately cremated, reportedly contracted the disease from another family member, he said.

The Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) decided to defer action on all items lined up in its regular session on Monday and adjourned after passing a resolution condoling with the Paclibar family and honoring his accomplishments and contributions to the province.

South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. said he was deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Paclibar.

He said it should be a reminder for everyone to take COVID-19 seriously and always practice personal protection as it is a dangerous disease.

“They did everything (to save him) and he also fought hard. He is a big loss to the province,” the governor said in his radio program.

Tantangan Vice Mayor Timee Joy Torres-Gonzales said their town is grieving the passing of Paclibar, whom she described as one of the pillars of the municipal council.

She said the late official, fondly called “Nonoy” by relatives and friends, was an inspiration for them, and a model leader and public servant “who will always stand up for what is right.”

Gonzales, who was among those who rushed to the hospital while Paclibar was fighting for his life, said the latter contributed and accomplished so much for the municipality and the province.

“He always worked hard and left a lot of legacies. He was more than a colleague. We lost a kuya (big brother),” the vice mayor said.

Paclibar’s political career started in 1992 when he was elected as Sangguniang Kabataan chair of Barangay New Iloilo, Tantangan and went on to become the municipal and provincial federation president, earning him an ex-officio seat at the South Cotabato provincial board.

He was eventually elected municipal councilor of Tantangan and served for three terms until 2007.

Paclibar, who holds a doctorate in public administration, was later appointed PCL national executive director and held the post for 10 years before going back to his hometown to run anew as councilor in the 2019 elections. (MindaNews)