Former assemblyman and mayor Reuben Canoy dies at 93

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 6 July) – Former assemblyman and Mayor Reuben Canoy, the voice behind the longest running political commentary “Perspective,” died Tuesday night in one of the hospitals here. He was 93 years old.
 

Reuben Canoy getting the jab in April 2021. Photo from the Facebook page of RHONA CANOY

His daughter Rhona announced his passing on her Facebook page Tuesday night.
 
“It is with sadness that we are informing you of Dad’s passing at 8:55 p.m. tonight July 5, 2022. Please pray for the eternal repose of his soul,” Rhona said.
 
The elder Canoy has been confined in an undisclosed hospital since his 93rd birthday last June 6
 
He is survived by his children Rhona, Chet, Cacoi and Donne. His wife, Solona, passed away in 2019.
 
Canoy was one of the most colorful political leaders in Cagayan de Oro and Mindanao along with the late Senator Aquilino Pimentel and former Governor Homobono Adaza. The three were outspoken critics of the Marcos Martial Law regime.
 
He was thrust to the national limelight when he emerged as the lone opposition candidate to win in the interim Batasang Pambansa elections called by the late President Ferdinand Marcos on April 7, 1978. The Batasang Pambansa was a unicameral legislature instituted under the 1973 Constitution promulgated by Marcos Sr. replacing the bicameral Congress, but was immediately abolished after the People Power Revolution in 1986.
 
Canoy landed in the last spot in an election called by the opposition as “Consuelo de bobo” of the Marcos regime. At that time, Batasan members were elected by regional basis.
 
Canoy’s political career started earlier when he was elected the fifth city mayor of Cagayan de Oro, then an upcoming urban city, from 1971 to 1976.
 
His political mettle was tested when the police arrested 30 students during a protest rally in downtown Divisoria.
 
Instead of sending them to the city jail, Canoy brought the students to his office, bought them dinner of pancit and bread, and lectured them about democracy and leadership. After that, Canoy released the students.
 
A graduate of Silliman University, Canoy was also widely known for his longest-running radio commentary “Perspective.”
 
His opening spiel, “Ang lungsod nga nasayod makahatag og kusog sa demokrasya, apan ang lungsod nga mapasagaron makapukan sa atong kagawasan” (A city that is aware will give strength to democracy, but an unmindful one will destroy our freedom), was listened to by thousands of followers in Mindanao and Visayas.
 
A year ago when his health condition would no longer allow him to talk at length, Canoy wrote his commentary and had his daughter read it over the internet.
 
He also wrote two books – “The Counterfeit Revolution: The Philippines from Martial Law to the Aquino Assassination” and “The Quest for Mindanao Independence.”
 
Later, Canoy started advocating for federalism and Mindanao independence from the Philippines.
 
He allegedly became involved with military rebels led by former Army Colonel Alexander Noble who seized the military garrisons in Cagayan de Oro and Butuan City.
 
The government alleged that Canoy was supposed to proclaim the Federal Republic of Mindanao comprising Mindanao, Sulu and Palawan, and break away from the Philippines.
 
Army troops arrested Canoy and former Mayor Constantino Jaraula and imprisoned them inside a small container van at the back of the Misamis Oriental provincial capitol.
 
Government prosecutors presented minted money and passports of the Federal Republic of Mindanao as evidence but Canoy and Jaraula were later released.
 
Canoy refused to keep quiet and went on giving lectures on federalism throughout Mindanao.
 
“Up to his last moments, his mind was still very sharp. I was surprised and amazed with his writings,” his friend Jaraula said.

Aside from being a politician, Canoy was a playwright and filmmaker. He was a past president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club, the oldest press club in Mindanao. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)