Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno came to the defense of the late Senate president Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. after President Rodrigo Duterte belittled the legacy of the democracy stalwart in his Mindanao hometown.
During a virtual Malacañang press briefing on Thursday, July 21, Moreno attributed Duterte's remarks to "political season" and said residents of Cagayan de Oro have fond memories of the late Pimentel.
He said that while Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III can be considered "fair game" for Duterte, berating Koko's father was another matter.
"I would view the statement of the President as ano na, political season na (it's political season). 'Yun lang, medyo masakit lang na idinamay si Nene. Kung sabihin niya kay Senator Koko, okay lang 'yan, that's fair game. Pero kay Senator Nene, medyo masakit," said Moreno.
(But, it was painful that he mentioned Nene. If he said that about Senator Koko, that's okay, that's fair game. But to involve Senator Nene, that's rather painful.)
Pimentel co-founded PDP-Laban, the political party that named Duterte as its standard-bearer in the 2016 elections. He died in 2019 after battling lymphoma. (READ: Nene Pimentel: Courageous stalwart of democracy)
In the last years of his life, he even found time and strength to serve as a member of Duterte's Charter Change Consultative Committee. But though the group finished its work, a draft federal constitution, Duterte eventually dropped the ball on federalism. It is now no longer part of his legislative priorities.
Pimentel had died with a broken heart because Duterte abandoned his promise to fight for their party's main advocacy of federalism, according to the late statesman's close friend and PDP-Laban member Welvert Cuenca, in this Rappler piece.
Moreno, who Pimentel once called the "best mayor CDO ever had," said the people of Cagayan de Oro "know the kind of person Nene Pimentel was."
"I would say that Senator Koko can defend himself but not in the case of Senator Nene. But we know that deep in our hearts, how we love Senator Nene," said Moreno.
Pimentel left behind Cagayan de Oro local politics during his time as senator.
"When he became senator, he focused on the issues of the country, no longer on local politics," said Moreno.
The late senator openly supported Moreno's 2013 mayoral bid against the incumbent mayor then, Vicente Emano.
Duterte's exact words about Nene and PDP-Laban on July 17 were: "It was a father and son party, period, wala nang iba (just that). And they are not even recognized in Cagayan de Oro City, totoo 'yan (it's true)."
Duterte said those words during a national assembly of PDP-Laban members which Koko does not recognize. He was ousted as party vice executive chairman during that meeting.
Despite Duterte's words about him and his father, Koko still considered himself an ally of the President. He was also forgiving of Duterte's decision to let go of his federalism promise. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.