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Senators mourn passing of Nene Pimentel

Senators on Sunday mourned the passing of former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr.

In a statement, incumbent Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he and his family were saddened by news of Pimentel's passing, saying that it felt like he lost a "close relative."

"I was his majority leader when he was Senate President and we were very close. He was my idol!" Sotto said.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, meanwhile, said Pimentel's passing is a great loss for Mindanao and the nation as a whole.

For Zubiri, Pimentel is "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," he said.

"As a Mindanaoan, I am truly saddened with this development. May God bless his soul," he added.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, on the other hand, said it was an honor and distinct privilege for him to have worked with Pimentel for nine "colorful" years in the Senate.

“Ka Nene fought for our country with honor and pride. His name will forever be remembered in the halls of Congress and by our grateful nation," he said.

For his part, Senator Francis Pangilinan thanked Pimentel for his sacrifices for the country, especially for standing up against the dictatorship of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

"Siya ay freedom fighter, and we thank him for his service to the nation," he said.

"Siya rin ang kasama namin sa pagtulak nung abolition ng death penalty. Palagay ko kung hindi siya 'yung isa sa mga nagtulak nito, e baka hindi naipasa ito dahil siyempre, isa siyang batikan at respetadong human rights advocate," he added.

Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, said he will remember Pimentel for championing local government units (LGUs) in the country.

"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," he said.

Senators Grace Poe and Risa Hontiveros both offered their condolences to Pimentel's family as they praised him for his contributions to the country's democracy.

"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.

"Ka Nene Pimentel is not only one of our most experienced and accomplished civil servants, he is also one of the greatest defenders of freedom and democracy in the history of our country. And his greatness was only eclipsed by his love for this nation and its people," Hontiveros said.

Pimentel died at 5 a.m. on Sunday after battling lymphoma and pneumonia, according to his daughter Commission on Human Rights Commissioner Gwendolyn "Gwen" Pimentel-Gana.

His death came a week after his family asked for prayers for his complete recovery since he has fallen very ill and confined in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of an undisclosed hospital. 

Senator Koko Pimentel, son of the former Senate President, thanked all those who have become a part of his life.

"Our beloved Tatay Nene has joined his Creator at 5 am today Oct 20, 2019. We thank all those who have been a part of his life. We ask for prayers for the repose of Tatay Nene’s soul. Thank you to all," Koko wrote on Facebook. —Erwin Colcol/KG, GMA News