DUMAGUETE CITY–Negros Oriental Gov. Agustin Perdices succumbed to stomach cancer at the St. Luke’s Global City shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday. He was 76.
Perdices served as Dumaguete City Mayor for 19 years before he was elected as Negros Oriental Vice Governor last May 2010. But as fate would have it, he was thrust to the governorship with the death of Gov. Emilio Macias II last June 13.
Perdices shocked Negrenses when he announced last November that he had stomach cancer. His doctors recommended that he undergo 12 chemotherapy sessions. He was about to have his seventh session when his condition suddenly worsened last Monday.
Lawyer Neil Ray Lagahit, Dumaguete City Legal Officer and Perdices’ legal adviser for 10 years, said Perdices was surrounded by his family and trusted aide Harrison Gonzales at his bedside.
Lagahit, accompanied by Perdices’ personal lawyer Myles Nicolas Bejar, flew to Manila Tuesday upon hearing of the Governor’s deteriorating condition. “We just wanted to see him alive,” Lagahit said.
When he got to the hospital Wednesday morning, Lagahit said he saw that the Governor was having difficulty breathing.
He was bleeding faster than the blood transfusion, Lagahit said.
“I told him ‘Gov, thank you so much for everything.’ After that, he would no longer talk. He would just murmur and use hand signals to give instructions.
“Then[Dumaguete] Mayor [Manuel Sagarbarria] called me to relay to the Gov. his gratitude for everything he had done for us. Perdices replied, ‘OK. Can’t talk phone.’
“At 12 noon, I bade him goodbye. But he couldn’t talk because he was gasping for breath. He looked at me and in a faint voice, said ‘OK Bim, pag-ayo ayo. (take care)’
“I turned to walk away but I was called back. He exerted tremendous effort and strength to raise his hand to call me again. He told me, ‘OK Bim, pag-ayo ayo.’
“I told him, Gov, you fight. Everyone is expecting to see you in Dumaguete. And he nodded and said, ‘pag ayo-ayo.’
That was the last time Lagahit saw him alive.
Mayor Sagarbarria described Perdices’ death as a great loss for Dumaguete. “He had served us for the last 19 years. We just have to accept the news. We are asking the family to hold at least a one-day wake at City Hall,” he said.
Sagarbarria said that in all his nine years as a politician, he would go to Perdices occasionally to ask for advice. “He was very calm and gave good advice. He was very fatherly. He never knew how to get angry. He was our next door neighbor but he was more of a barkada to my elder brothers.”
For his part, Vice Governor Roel Degamo ordered flags to fly at half mast all over the province, as he assured that he would continue the projects of Gov. Perdices.
Degamo would take his oath of office as Governor of Negros Oriental at 8 a.m. on Thursday before RTC Executive Judge Fe Lualhati Bustamante.
First Board Member Apolinario Arnaiz Jr. will also take his oath as the new Vice Governor of the Province.
Perdices’ remains will be flown in on Friday afternoon on the Philippine Airlines flight. Interment has been scheduled for Tuesday, January 11 at 12 noon at the Dumaguete Memorial Park.*