Senators have expressed grief over the passing of former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., whose commitment to public service has helped shape the nation.
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Pimentel was not only a great dissenter, but also a great builder.
“While others sought comfort in numbers, Nene drew strength from his convictions. He was a maverick who could not resist a good fight, many of which by his lonesome, for he believed that one man with courage was enough to make a majority,” Recto said in a statement.
“He was also a great builder — of local autonomy, of just peace among a people fatigued of war, of grassroots democracy, of Mindanao development, of ethics in public service,” the veteran legislator added.
The seasoned lawmaker noted that Pimentel notched an “impressive scorecard of laws” for his courage to speak and wisdom to listen.
“Many laws of the land have been enriched by the wisdom he selflessly shared. He acted as the people’s watchman in the Senate who guarded their interests, often as a one-man checkpoint who shone a lantern on the bills before they were passed,” the senator said.
“The republic is diminished by the death of this great patriot.”
“Nene was a sensei to many legislators in that bygone era when true grit was measured by hard work and not by likes, shares, and followers. The republic is diminished by the death of this great patriot,” he added.
Senator Sonny Angara said Pimentel was an “influential voice in the public space” which contributed immensely in making the country better.
“Senator Nene was a Filipino who did not go gently into the night — whether it was during martial law or after he retired from the Senate,” Angara said.
“Never the bullhorn of the powerful, he instead lent his big voice to the small people. That has been the story of his life — an advocate for the down and out, a champion of the powerless and the persecuted,” the veteran legislator added.
The seasoned lawmaker also highlighted the veteran lawmaker’s great skill in proposing solutions to the problems of the state.
“He authored many laws which became disruptors for the greater good, like giving powers to the local government, land to the tiller, and military bases to their rightful owner,” the senator said.
“Senator Nene was the lawmaker’s lawmaker, both in intelligence to craft or critique laws and the discipline to consistently do it. He was also a gentleman of the old school, where political differences are not allowed to get in the way of real friendship,” he added.
Senator Win Gatchalian noted that Pimentel’s intellect, integrity, and commitment to public service have helped shape the country.
“Perhaps, some may know him as a staunch advocate of changing the constitution, while others know him as one of those who opposed the dictatorial regime of then President Ferdinand Marcos,” Gatchalian said.
“Personally, I will remember him as the champion of local government units (LGUs). Because of his landmark measure, the Local Government Code of 1991, Pimentel has empowered LGUs across the country by allowing them to create their own source of revenue and enable them to levy taxes and fees, among others,” the veteran legislator added.
Senator Joel Villanueva stressed that Pimentel’s commitment to uphold public interest should be emulated by civil servants in the performance of their duties and functions.
“The life of Tatay Nene is proof that there is no greater honor than serving the country.”
“Patunay ang buhay ng Tatay Nene na wala nang mas hihigit sa karangalang maglingkod sa bayan. Inspirasyon siya sa aming mambabatas at magiging gabay ang kanyang mga aral sa aming mga gawain sa Senado (The life of Tatay Nene is proof that there is no greater honor than serving the country. He is an inspiration to us, lawmakers, and his teachings would serve as a guide in our work at the Senate),” Villanueva said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tita Bing, Sen. Koko and Comm. Gwen, and their families who are grieving the loss of this great statesman. We pray that the good Lord comfort the family he left behind,” the veteran legislator said.
Senator Grace Poe described the 85-year-old statesman as a “principled leader” and a “patriot.”
“Senator Nene always kept watch and put himself on the line for the sake of the Filipino people. Our heartfelt prayers are with his family,” Poe said.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Pimentel’s death is a “great loss for Mindanao and the nation” as he is considered one of the great pillars of our country’s democracy in the last 50 years.
“I’m honored to have had the opportunity to work with him in the 14th Congress and even if we had some differences then, he still treated me professionally and mentored me on the issues of human rights and above all the rule of law,” Zubiri said.
“As a Mindanaoan, I am truly saddened with this development. May God bless his soul,” the veteran legislator added.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed grief over the death of the statesman, who grew “very close” to him.
“My family and I bereave this very sad news. I feel like I lost a close relative and not just a friend. I was his majority leader when he was Senate President and we were very close. He was my idol,” Sotto said.
Senator Bong Go remembered Pimentel for having shared an advocacy with President Rodrigo Duterte, particularly the desire to push for a federal system of government.
Duterte appointed Pimentel as one of the 25-members of the consultative committee on amending the 1987 Constitution in 2018.
“Tatay Nene, as he is fondly called, was a fellow Mindanaoan and a staunch ally in fighting for advocacies he shared with Tatay Digong even before President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration until now,” Go said in a statement.
The legislator thanked Pimentel, the founder of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Duterte’s political party, for his support for this administration, especially during the 2016 and 2019 elections.
Meanwhile, the lawmaker recognized Pimentel not only as the father of the Local Government Code but for being a “visionary, democracy leader and a hardworking legislator.”
“Acknowledged as the father of local autonomy, he championed the cause of local governance and had enormously contributed in shaping what local government units possess now. The Local Government Code of 1991 is a testament to his remarkable contributions,” the senator said.
He also offered condolences to Pimentel’s family, particularly the late senator’s eldest son and his colleague in the Senate, Kiko Pimentel.
Go acknowledged that Pimentel’s demise would have a big impact not just to his family, but also the country but noted that he will be remembered for his contributions as a public servant.
“His death may leave us with a sad void and profound loss to his family and to our country he cared so much about. But his legacy shall forever be remembered and shall always guide us in shaping the destiny of our people,” he said.