KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 7 June) – Mayor Angelo Montilla of nearby Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat province died Sunday evening due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the local government confirmed Monday.
He was 62.
In a statement, the Tacurong City government said that Montilla, fondly called Roncal by his constituents, had tested positive for COVID-19 and was brought to an undisclosed hospital in General Santos City where he expired at 9:46 p.m.
“In the face of danger brought about by the pandemic, and despite the high risk it brings to his health condition, Mayor Roncal continued to physically report to work and be on the frontlines in our fight against this crisis, a testament to his leadership and passion to serve,” the statement said.
“He will be remembered as a tireless leader who sacrificed his life in the name of public service. He is a true son of Tacurong. His legacy will live on,” it added.
The Philippine flag was flown at half-mast at the Tacurong City Hall to grieve the death of the mayor, who was also suffering from diabetes.
Montilla was first elected as mayor of the then municipality of Tacurong in 1988, serving in that capacity until 1995.
He was then elected as representative of the then lone district of Sultan Kudarat, serving for three terms from 1995 to 2004.
After he completed his congressional stint, Montilla kept away from politics after he was accused of double murder involving the death of two local government employees in 2003. The case was eventually dismissed by the Court of Appeals.
Allan Freno, Tacurong City Hall spokesperson, described Montilla as a dedicated public servant who, as much as possible, always wanted to report to work.
“He would arrive as early as 7 a.m. in the office ahead of many employees, and would be the last to go home,” Freno told MindaNews.
The mayor would also lavishly praise employees or units if they have performed well, he added.
Freno said that Montilla’s wife was also tested positive for COVID-19.
When Montilla came back to public life and won the mayoral race in 2019, and later facing the threats of COVID-19, he managed to implement vital projects such as the establishment of a people’s dialysis center, solar streetlights and the redevelopment of the city’s public market, among others.
The Montilla family, who requested for privacy, is asking the constituents to pray for his eternal rest, Freno said.
As of June 6, Tacurong City recorded 525 COVID-19 cases, according to the Tacurong City COVID-19 tracker. At least 392 individuals have recovered from the disease while the active cases stood at 120.
The COVID-19 claimed the lives of 13 residents, the tracker showed. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)