02 August 2011

GAME PLAN: Are you IN or OUT?


Life is like a contest, a game. The moment you have decided to take a step, assuredly, there’s no turning back. You cannot keep everything, not all time you win and take the grand prize. Its either you win something or lose something. You have to choose and weight things respectively. Each of us must be smart in choosing right decisions and strategies. As much as possible, there is no room for mistakes. No one will be exempted for playing the game, even the politicians. Just like every people, politicians should have their own game plan.

Now, let’s look at the game plan of a man behind the success of Corazon “Cory” Aquino and his contribution to the Rise of People Power.

Can he manage to stay at the top or fall as the runner up?

Is he IN or OUT?

The man that I am referring to is none other than Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.

Aquilino Pimentel Jr. or better known as Nene Pimentel is born into a political family in Cagayan de Oro as the son of Aquilino E. Pimentel a lawyer and Petra Quilinging a public school teacher.

The man from Mindanao was move to the national arena as an elected delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1971, representing Misamis Oriental. The complexity of what had promised to be an inspiring political exercise changed when then President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law on September 21, 1972.

Being a young and principled lawyer, Pimentel and a few-like minded delegates feared the CONCON would produce a Marcos-scripted Constitution and were vocal in their opposition.


Because of the fear that martial law will bring, Pimentel protested certain provisions as being contrary to the people’s interest. Not surprisingly, in a roundup of those who opposed Marcos, he was arrested in early 1973 and jailed for three months at Camp Crame . At the same year he was released from prison in time for the signing of the Constitution. Pimentel refused to sign along with a few other delegates. In the climate of fear of the Martial Law era, this was a bold move and it widened his repute as an oppositionist. He then became the lawyer for the National Secretariat for Social Action of the Catholic Bishops Conference to help the poor peasants and the urban poor who were particularly oppressed during the Martial Law era.

Pimentel as a fearless man did not stop the fight and instead he ran for a post in the Interim Batasan elections as an official candidate of the Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) party of Metro Manila along with Ninoy Aquino in April 1978. Sadly, members of Marcos’ Kilusan ng Bagong Lipunan (KBL) party swept the seats.

Pimentel and other opposition leaders like Senator Lorenzo Tañada, Teofisto Guingona, and Chino Roces loudly protested the defeat of all opposition candidates and denounced the massive cheating that had taken place. Pimentel was one of those arrested for leading a demonstration against what he termed farcical elections. He had spoken out against Marcos’ bid to produce a rubber stamp legislature to win legitimacy for his iron-fisted regime which was increasingly being criticized here and abroad. Pimentel was jailed for two months in Camp Bicutan , Metro Manila.

Pimentel’s second stint in prison did not silence him. In fact, it strengthened his resolve to fight for freedom and to oppose electoral fraud. He brought the battle from the streets to the polls in January 1980 when Marcos allowed local elections.


Nothing and No one can stop Pimentel and his advocacies. They launched his mayoralty bin in Cagayan with a mere 2,000 in his war chest, all the money the couple could gather. As a result of his fortitude, Cagayanons who believed in him contributed to his campaign and penned his name on their ballot. Pimentel won by a 3-1 margin over his KBL rival, who was fielded by Marcos. Pimentel ran under the coalition banner of the National Union for Democracy and Freedom and the Mindanao Alliance which busted KBL dominance in Misamis Oriental. He and his entire slate of candidates for vice mayor and seven city councilors swept the elections in Cagayan de Oro. His candidates for governor and vice governor also won.


Pimentel was not to govern his city unhindered. In 1981, while he was on a five-week training course in the United States , the Comelec ousted him for “political turncoatism,” installing the KBL candidate as mayor. The Comelec cited Pimentel for switching from Laban in April 1978 to the National Union for Democracy and Freedom in December 1979 and then running as candidate of the Mindanao Alliance in January 1980. Pimentel partisans immediately staged peaceful demonstrations to express their displeasure. About 30 of his supporters also started fasting in protest. Six days later, 10,000 of his supporters marched around the city in a nonviolent show of support for Pimentel who was then on an official trip to the US . Thousands more lined the streets to cheer them on. This first-ever demonstration of “People Power” came at a time when Marcos did not lightly tolerate different opinions.

Meanwhile in Manila, Pimentel’s lawyer, headed by opposition leaders former Senators Lorenzo Tañada and Soc Rodrigo, along with Abraham Sarmiento, Raul Gonzales and Joker Arroyo, claimed that the Comelec had acted without jurisdiction and contented that the electorate’s will should be respected. The Comelec, however, reaffirmed its decision to oust Pimentel.

The conflict made national headlines and demonstrations causing Marcos to alter the decision of COMELEC.

But that doesn’t stop there, in1983 while he was in Cebu City , Pimentel was arrested on charges of rebellion and was detained. He had allegedly given P100 to new People’s Army commander. At that time even his family did not know where he was. They traced him to Camp Sergio Osmeña and later to Camp Cabahug in the City of Cebu . Even as he was held in the military detention centers, his followers from Cagayan De Oro and other parts of the country visited him by the hundreds to boost his moral and keep his spirits high. Nene Pimentel disputed the charges and was later released. Returning home, he was mobbed by thousand of his supporters upon his arrival at the pier of Cagayan De Oro. Later, he was again arrested for allegedly engaging in ambuscades. His supporters contributed centavos and pesos in small denomination to bail him out. Subsequently, Pimentel was placed under house arrest which lasted for almost seven months.

From the confines of his home, Pimentel continued to keep abreast of national news. He helped rally the opposition, ran the city and launched his bid as assemblyman for the Batasang Pambansa. He was, if anything, not quite. He protested relentlessly and fearlessly against injustice, fraud, corruption and Marcos’ dictatorial rule.


Then, in the aftermath of the assassination of Marcos’s chief rival, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino in 1983, Pimentel won a seat in the Batasan Pambansa elections of 1984. But the Marcos government ousted him on the allegation that he had cheated in the elections. The Supreme Court itself recounted the ballots in an electoral contest.

Pimentel, a relentless critic of the Marcos regime, was often seen with Ninoy’s widow, Cory, as they rallied the opposition. These alliances then became and form a party, the merger of two political parties being the opposition group for Marcos’ government. The party formed is now PDP Laban, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino and Lakas ng Bayan.

Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) was founded in 1982 by Aquilino Pimentel, Jr. and a group of protesters of the Marcos government. These protesters include the leaders of Davao Cityand Cagayan de Oro City. By 1983, PDP had formed a coalition with the Lakas ng Bayanparty, founded earlier by former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. in 1978.

In 1986, the two groups merged to form the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan or PDP LABAN. At that period, PDP LABAN became the single biggest opposition group to run against the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos in the 1986 Snap Presidential elections. Corazón Aquino, wife of Lakas ng Bayan founder Benigno Aquino, Jr. was the party’s nominee forPresident that year.

However, another opposition group led by Senator Salvador Laurel of Batangas was also participating in the election, with Laurel as the presidential bet. Before the election, Aquino approached Laurel and offered to give up her allegiance to the PDP-LABAN party, and run as president under Laurel ‘s United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO) party. Laurel became the nominee for Vice President. He also approached Aquino, offering her the Vice Presidential nomination of UNIDO or Unity. In the end, Laurel became the Vice Presidential running-mate of Aquino, after being convinced to do so by the Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin. When Cardinal Jaime Sin brokered a political marriage between Cory and Salvador “Doy” Laurel, Jr., Pimentel graciously stepped aside and let history run its course.


Cory Aquino won the election for President and finally the stand for democracy rises.


Where is Nene Pimentel? Is he out of the game?

Upon her ascent to power President Aquino appointed Pimentel as Minister of Local Government. He had the unenviable task of dismantling the structure of dictatorship and corruption left behind by the Marcos regime. Pimentel wielded the axe deliberately, gaining a breathing space for the new administration. His critics alleged he had sold positions in the new government, but none could make the charge stick. Pimentel incurred the ire of some but also the respect of those who saw that he did it without fear or favor or taint of corruption. Pimentel’s next assignment in the Aquino administration was as presidential adviser and chief negotiator with the Muslim rebels. He resigned from that post to run for the Senate in the 1987 elections.

Ups and Downs came but still he managed to stay at the top.


His achievements speak for him.

  • Elected Delegate, Constitutional Convention, 1971;
  • Elected Mayor of Cagayan de Oro City, 1980-84;
  • Elected Member of Parliament (Batasan Pambansa), 1984-86;
  • Appointed Minister of Local Government by President Corazon C. Aquino, 1986;
  • Appointed Presidential Adviser and Chief Negotiator with the Muslim rebels by President Aquino, 1987;
  • Elected Senator of the Republic, 1987-1992;
  • Cheated of victory by means of dagdag/bawas in the 1995 senatorial elections; whereupon he sued the cheaters before the criminal courts where the cases are still being tried. He, has, however, established by incontrovertible evidence in the Senate Electoral Tribunal the existence of massive dagdag/bawas fraudulent count in the said senatorial elections.
  • Elected Senator of the Republic, 1998-2004. As a senator, he continues the crusade to curb graft and corruption in government; the fight for electoral reforms and the prosecution of the criminal cases against the cheats in the 1995 & 1998 elections.
  • Elected as the 19th Senate President of the Republic, November 13, 2000.
  • Elected as the Senate Minority Leader in the opening of the 12th Congress, July 23, 2001.
  • Elected Senator of the Republic, 2004-2010.
  • Elected as the Senate Minority Leader, July 26, 2004 – present.
  • Elected Senator 2004-2010

Some of Senator Pimentel’s notable achievements in legislation include: Republic Act No. 7160, The Local Government Code which liberates provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays from over-dependence upon the central government; Republic Act No. 6938, The Cooperative Code which provides government encouragement and support for the establishment of all kind of people’s cooperatives; Republic Act No. 6678, The Generic Drugs Act which encourages the use of generic drugs as a way of reducing the costs of medicine; and Republic Act No. 6734, An Act Creating the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao which seeks to dissipate the causes of unrest and recession in the Muslim provinces of Mindanao.

Because of his achievements and dedication he established himself as a man with honor, dignity and love for his nation.

So, is he IN or OUT?

In life, we don’t know how it would end but we know how to make it better. Like an excited yet breath-taking games, we ought to know when to end so as not to lose everything. It is not bad to make some gambles in life because it is inevitable. We just have to play our strategies well and accept what the result may be.


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