Former SouthCot board member, long-time mayor succumbs to COVID-19

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 29 Sep) – A former provincial board member and long-time town mayor in South Cotabato province succumbed on Wednesday to complications caused by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Antonio Damandaman Sr., former board member of South Cotabato and long-time mayor of Sto. Niño municipality, with wife Conchita. Photo from the Facebook page of his son (Antonio Themantheman)

Former Sto. Niño Mayor Antonio Damandaman Sr., 79, passed away around 5:30 a.m. in a private hospital in Koronadal City after battling the deadly disease for nearly three weeks, his family confirmed.

“Tapos na po ang pakikipaglaban ni Papang dahil sa epekto ng COVID. Madamo gid nga salamat sa tanan nga nag pray kay Papang. Sa inyo nga pag palangga sa iya (My father’s battle against COVID has ended. Many thanks to everyone who prayed for him and extending your love),” his United States-based son and namesake Antonio posted on Facebook.

In a post on Sept. 12, he appealed for prayers for the former official, who was then in “critical condition” due to COVID-19.

Damandaman’s 73-year-old wife Conchita also tested positive for the disease and was hospitalized but has already recovered.

The younger Damandaman said on Sept. 23 that his father was intubated due to problems with the latter’s body oxygen level but was responsive and “can follow instructions [from his] nurses” although still in a critical situation.

Aside from serving as mayor and provincial board member, he said his father was a layco of the town’s Catholic parish and director from 1984 to 1986 of the South Cotabato-1 Electric Cooperative.

Joffrey Frinal, Sto. Niño municipal administrator, said the entire municipality is mourning the passing of their former mayor.

“He is a big loss to our municipality,” he said in an interview over radio station Bombo Radyo in Koronadal City.

He said Damandaman was the town’s third mayor and the first elected in 1988, eight years after the municipality’s creation on Dec. 23 1980 through Batas Pambansa 90 that was ratified in a plebiscite on April 7, 1981.

Damandaman completed three straight terms as mayor in 1988 and was later elected as a provincial board member of South Cotabato’s second district, holding the post for nine years or until 2007.

He then returned as mayor of Sto. Niño, a third-class town of South Cotabato, and completed three straight terms until 2016.

As decided by the Damandaman family, Frinal said the former mayor’s remains will be brought home around 3 p.m. and would be buried immediately at the town’s Divine Heritage Memorial Park.

He said the vehicle carrying Damandaman’s body will briefly pass by the municipal hall to allow concerned residents and officials to bid farewell to the latter.

Frinal said incumbent Mayor Sulpicio Villalobos will lead a ceremony at the municipal hall on Oct. 4 as the town will pay tribute and honor the late former official. (MindaNews)