CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Zamboangueños commemorated on Monday, November 14, the 38th anniversary of the assassination of former mayor Cesar Climaco – one of the staunchest critics of the first Marcos administration in Mindanao.
Climaco was killed on November 14, 1984, a year after former senator and opposition leader Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. was assassinated.
Climaco had joined those who aggressively demanded justice for the murder of Aquino, his friend.
Local officials and residents gathered at the Climaco Freedom Park in Abong-Abong, Pasonanca for a commemorative program after hearing a morning mass at a nearby church which was officiated in time for the slain mayor’s 38th death anniversary.
The night before, Zamboanga Mayor John Dalipe led a group in lighting candles and offering flowers at the site of Climaco’s assassination on Camino Nuevo Street, now Governor Alvarez Avenue.
Climaco was standing on the spot in downtown Zamboanga, overseeing firefighting operations, when an assassin shot him at point-blank range. The bullet pierced through his nape.
His assassin remains unknown to this day.
Joining Dalipe at the assassination site were Vice Mayor Josephine Pareja, members of the Climaco family, and members of the Zamboanga Jaycees, an organization that the late mayor served in the 1950s.
“May we embody the life principle of Cesar Climaco – dedicated, firm, and with principle,” Dalipe said.
Climaco was among the Mindanao officials who organized resistance against the Marcos dictatorship and opposed the imposition of Martial Law.
The late mayor caught national attention when he vowed never to cut his hair until democracy was restored in the country.
Dr. Junie Climaco, a son of the late mayor, said his family was grateful that the city government and Zamboangeños have continued to remember the late mayor’s legacy through the annual Dia de Cesar (Day of Cesar).
The Dia de Cesar is a yearly commemoration in Zamboanga based on a city ordinance.
Climaco served as Zamboanga’s mayor from 1980 until his death in 1984, and earlier, from 1953 to 1954, and from 1956 to 1961.
“Mayor Climaco was a legend not only in Zamboanga,” said Cagayan de Oro-based teacher Payet Romulo.
Climaco was called the “Arsenio Lacson of the South” because of his toughness, style of governance, and crusade against abuses during the Marcos dictatorship.
He went into exile when Marcos declared Martial Law but returned years later and became actively involved in the anti-Marcos movement.
Climaco was immortalized in the 1994 film Mayor Cesar Climaco which starred the late actor Eddie Garcia. – Rappler.com