Unimpeachable legacy: ‘Senator Nene never stopped fighting for the country’
The column of Manuel L. Quezon III, “The tragic silence of Nene Pimentel” (10/23/19), was tasteless for two reasons.
First, because of the timing. Our family is still grieving the death of our beloved patriarch. I would like to believe that the natural reaction of a decent person, I daresay of a decent Filipino, is to commiserate with the family mourning the loss of a loved one. To deliberately add more pain to the family’s grief is very un-Filipino.
Second, because there are key parts of the opinion piece which slyly slanders the memory of Senator Nene. Indeed, one can easily be forgiven to see the opinion piece as a tactless ploy to ride on the death of a political icon.
A simple Google search would reveal that even after his retirement from politics, Senator Nene was never silenced. As a tireless advocate of the autonomy of local governments, he traveled all over the country educating many Filipinos about federalism.
But he never imposed this idea on his audience. I have personally seen him in many of these federalism forums, and he would always insist that his view should only be taken as one of many. And that his role was to simply help them understand the basics of federalism, but it is still incumbent upon all Filipinos to diligently study this government system.
So, to somehow suggest that he failed to address the critics of federalism is utterly misleading. Senator Nene never claimed that there was no economic cost to shifting to a federal system of government. In fact, he was humble enough to say many times that this is a matter that still needs to be ironed out with economists.
Indeed, he was still deeply engaged in finding the best path to federalization right up to the point where his body simply could not take the rigors of traveling around the country. His passion and dedication for this cause continue to inspire many of his followers, which means that the federalism campaign shall carry on. So, to describe his effort as a failure is simply hateful.
A simple Google search will also show that Senator Nene never stopped fighting for good governance in the country. For sure, in the past decade, we no longer saw that fiery parliamentarian of the streets. But instead, we saw that elderly statesman who was never averse to being critical of government when the occasion called for it.
More importantly, he never wavered in imploring Filipinos to join him in the fight for good governance. He would always remind people that, “Good governance does not depend on the governors alone but also on the governed.” Notably, these words continue to resonate with reformists in the country and will continue to inspire them to stay the course. So, to suggest that Senator Nene simply stopped fighting for the improvement of our political order is, quite plainly, irresponsible.
The legacy of Senator Nene is unimpeachable. He was a champion of local autonomy. He was a true believer of the bayanihan spirit. He never doubted the power of collective action, of Filipinos working together for a better Philippines.
More importantly, Senator Nene will always be remembered as a patriot. He never kowtowed to foreign powers. Unequivocally, he always put the interest of his fellow Filipinos above his own.
MICHAEL HENRY YUSINGCO, LL.M.
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