GENERAL SANTOS CITY – A former provincial board member and longtime town mayor in South Cotabato province succumbed on Wednesday to complications caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Former Sto. Niño Mayor Antonio Damandaman Sr., 79, passed away around 5:30 a.m. at a private hospital in Koronadal City after battling the deadly disease for nearly three weeks, his family confirmed.
“Tapos na Po ang Pakikipag Laban Ni Papang dahil sa epekto ng Covid. Madamo gid nga salamat sa tanan nga nag pray kay Papang. Sainyo nga pag palangga sa iya (My father’s battle against Covid has ended. Many thanks to everyone who prayed for him and extending your love),” his United States-based son and namesake Antonio posted on Facebook.
In a post on September 12, he appealed for prayers for the former official, who was then in “critical condition” due to Covid-19.
Damandaman’s 73-year-old wife Conchita also tested positive for the disease and was hospitalized but has already recovered.
The younger Damandaman said his father was intubated on September 23 due to problems with the latter’s body oxygen level but was responsive and “can follow instructions (from his) nurses” although still in a critical situation.
Aside from serving as mayor and provincial board member, he said his father was a “layco” of the town’s Catholic parish and director of the South Cotabato-1 Electric Cooperative from 1984 to 1986.
Joffrey Frinal, Sto. Niño municipal administrator, said the entire municipality is mourning the passing of their former mayor.
“He is a big loss to our municipality,” he said in an interview over radio station Bombo Radyo in Koronadal City.
He said Damandaman was the town’s third mayor and the first elected in 1988, eight years after the municipality’s creation on Dec. 23, 1980 through Batas Pambansa 90 that was ratified in a plebiscite on April 7, 1981.
Damandaman completed three straight terms as mayor in 1988 and was later elected as a provincial board member of South Cotabato’s second district, holding the post for nine years until 2007.
He then returned as mayor of Sto. Niño, a third-class town in South Cotabato, and completed three straight terms until 2016.
As decided by the Damandaman family, Frinal said the former mayor’s remains will be brought home around 3 p.m. and would be buried immediately at the town’s Divine Heritage Memorial Park.
He said the vehicle carrying Damandaman’s body will briefly pass by the municipal hall to allow concerned residents and officials to bid farewell to the latter.
Frinal said incumbent Mayor Sulpicio Villabos will lead a ceremony at the municipal hall on October 4 as the town will pay tribute to and honor the late official. (PNA)