BY JOAN DAIRO
“JUST let me cry, I don’t know how to say goodbye. Just let me cry, to ease the pain. Just let me cry, Tatay. Go my love. Just let me cry. Just let me cry.”
Lourdes “Nanay Bing” Pimentel composed these lines at the deathbed of her husband, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., minutes after he passed away in the early morning of October 20 at the age of 85.
Mrs. Pimentel wrote the lyrics as she recalled the late senator’s instruction for her not to shed tears when he was first arrested in 1973 for opposing proposed amendments to the 1971 Constitution.
Yesterday, tears flowed during the necrological rites held by the Senate to honor the life and death of its former Senate President when Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III broke down as he accepted Senate Resolution No. 168 authored by all senators of the 18th Congress which expressed the “profound sympathy and sincere condolences of the Senate” on the death of the white-haired, charming and loving freedom fighter.
“Saying goodbye permanently to someone as special as Tatay, someone you admire and love is a sad, sad event. We do not want this to happen, but it will happen, and it has happened. That is life,” the young Pimentel said in between sobs.
He added: “Nene Pimentel was my teacher. I know he was yours too. He was our teacher because he was our father… We will miss our physical interaction with Tatay. We will miss hearing the insights of our elder statesman.”
The elder Pimentel’s remains was brought to the Senate for his “last homecoming” and visit to the hall that he lovingly and judiciously served for 17 years from 1987 to 1992, and from 1998 to 2010.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III feted his late colleague for his legislative proficiency: “If social justice, courage and the crafting of laws were to assume a human form, in all probability, that person would be Senate President Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel Jr.”
“Senate President Aquilino Q. Pimentel Jr. was one senator whom we expected to see every now and then in our premises. He felt at home here, in the ambience of debate and proposing laws for the benefit of the people. Today, he comes back to the Senate for the last time. He will be greatly missed. He had been a leading light of this chamber, not only in good times, but more so during its trials and darkest moments,” he also said.
Aside from Sotto, other senators who were present were Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senators Pia Cayetano, Risa Hontiveros, Sonny Angara, Christopher Go and Ronald dela Rosa.
The late lawmaker’s colleagues in previous congresses were also present to pay their homage: former president Joseph Estrada and Dra. Loi, former vice president Noli de Castro, and former senators Rodolfo Biazon, John Osmeña, Joey Lina, Heherson Alvarez, Robert Jaworski Sr., Anna Dominique Coseteng, Ramon Magsaysay Jr., Alfredo Lim, Wigberto Tañada, Rene Saguisag, Eddie Ilarde and Orly Mercado.
Lina, Saguisag, Coseteng, Alvarez, Mercado, Hontiveros and Cayetano recalled the years they spent with the late lawmaker during their times at the Senate.
The Resolution lamented “the death of a respected statesman, an inspiring leader, a man of humility, honesty and integrity, a patriot, an icon of democracy, who had dedicated his life for the betterment of his beloved country.”
The Pimentel family joined the late senator’s ‘children’ at the Senate, who formed long lines at the session hall to view and bid their final goodbye to everyone’s “Tatay Nene.”
Tearful hugs and whispers were given to Mrs. Bing Pimentel, Sen. Koko Pimentel, Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana, Maripet Pimentel-Brar, Jac Pimentel, Terelou Pimentel and Inde Pimentel-Borghijs.
From the Senate, the former Senate President’s body was flown to Cagayan de Oro, where he also served as city mayor. It will be flown back to Manila on Friday.
The night before the necrological services, President Duterte paid his last respects to the late lawmaker, going straight to the Heritage Park in Taguig City upon his arrival from Tokyo where he attended the enthronement ceremony for Japanese Emperor Nauhito.
Enduring the severe pelvic and back pain that he felt as an after-effect of his motorcycle fall last week, Duterte condoled with Mrs. Pimentel and the Pimentel children.
“Notwithstanding his trip to Japan being cut short due to a searing pain in the spinal pelvic area of his body, the President was able to endure the same and headed from Villamor Air Base in Pasay City to the wake of former Senate President Aquilino ‘Nene’ Pimentel, Jr., whom he considers as a personal friend and recognizes as having contributed valuable service to the country as a public servant,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and concurrent presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo. – With Jocelyn Montemayor