MANILA — The widow of former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel recalled Monday her last moments with her husband of nearly 60 years, as she thanked the public for an "outpouring of love" for the late statesman.
Pimentel, 85, succumbed to lymphoma on Sunday morning, days after he was admitted to the intensive care unit of a hospital.
Even during his hospital stay, the former 17-year senator was thinking about the manuscript of the book about federalism that he has written, until he became too weak, said his wife Lourdes "Bing" Pimentel.
In their last few days together, Mrs. Pimentel said she composed a song that she repeatedly sang to her husband.
"I was crying and singing in his death bed. Ang kanta ko (my song was), ‘Just let me cry'... I accept everything and I offer everything to God,” she told reporters.
The Pimentels were supposed to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary next April, said one of their 6 children, Human Rights Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana.
Mrs. Pimentel said she would not forget the public’s “outpouring of love” for her husband.
"Noong humiling po tayo ng dasal para kay Nene, nung na-confine po siya sa hospital, nakita ko po ang outpouring love ng buong bayan, at ako po ay nagpapasalamat, ang aming buong pamilya, sa pagmamahal na ipinakita ng lahat kay Nene," she said.
(When we asked for prayer for Nene, when he was confined to the hospital, we saw the outpouring of love from the whole country and our whole family is thankful for the love that everyone showed Nene.)
Pimentel was a fierce critic of martial law under President Ferdinand Marcos.
He later served in the Cabinet of Marcos' successor, Corazon Aquino, before his stint in the Senate, where he championed laws that strengthened the local government and created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Philippine National Police.
He also led legislative hearings into the Expo Pilipino centennial scam, misuse of military retirement funds and benefits, and the jueteng allegations of former Governor Luis Singson against President Joseph Estrada.
Even on his death bed, Pimentel thought of possible guests for his weekly radio program and the arrangements for his scheduled talks this month, said his chief political assistant for 31 years, Omeng Maglangit, and executive assistant for 21 years, Clarisse Aquino.
"Hindi na ako nagpaalam. Napapasalamat ako sa lahat ng nagawa niya sa akin, sa pamilya ko; mga bata naka-graduate, nakatrabaho na lahat, propesyunal na dahil sa kanyang mga tulong,” Maglangit said.
(I did not say goodbye. I only thanked him for everything he did for me, my family. My children all graduated and are now working because of his help.)
Pimentel was supposed to appear this month at his pet project "Batang Transformers," which teaches young Lumads, Muslims and Christians about their cultural ties. He was also supposed to talk in a Mindanao university about federalism, a form of government he championed for the country, said his aides.
Pimentel always believed that a public servant must ensure good service for the public and never enter into compromises, said Energy Undersecretary Benito Ranque, a supporter of the lawmaker since the 1990s.
"He could have been a good president of this country. He is so good, he is a man of vision. I hope people will remember him, his legacy,” said Ranque.
Report from Sherrie Ann Torres, Jamaine Punzalan ABS-CBN News