SENATOR Aquilino “Koko” L. Pimentel’s camp has maintained that his reelection bid for next year’s midterm elections is legal amid disqualification cases filed against him.
Mr. Pimentel’s lawyer, George Erwin M. Garcia, appeared before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday for the preliminary conference regarding the disqualification cases filed by lawyers Ferdinand S. Topacio and Glenn A. Chong, who both claim that Mr. Pimentel should be barred from running again next year because he has already served two consecutive terms at the Senate.
The senator was elected in 2007, but only assumed his post in 2011, after the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) ruled in his favor in the electoral protest case against Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri.
“Ang contention namin ay hindi ‘yan termino (Our contention is, that was not one term),” Mr. Garcia told reporters, referring to the 2011-2013 period.
He further explained that this should be considered as a “tenure,” which is different from a “term.”
“This is tenure, which under the Constitution is, it should be two consecutive terms in order to prohibit the candidacy, therefore he is still entitled to one more term. A term is different from tenure,” Mr. Garcia said in mixed English and Filipino.
Mr. Pimentel’s submitted Verified Answers to Mr. Topacio and Mr. Chong on Nov. 16 and Nov. 29, respectively, asserts that he “has not fully served as Senator for two (2) consecutive terms since he was not able to serve a full term of six (six) years during his 2007 to 2013 term for reasons contrary or against his will.”
It added that Mr. Pimentel was only proclaimed the 12th winning senator four years after the 2007 elections, and to consider him to have fully served the 2007-2013 term would not only be an injustice to the senator but also to the electorate.
On the other hand, Mr. Topacio insisted that it still counts as one term.
“Ang term na ‘yun (That term) is retroactive from 2007,” Mr. Topacio told reporters.
Mr. Topacio added that even if they only count the period 2011-2013, Mr. Pimentel would still violate the constitutional limit of 12 years because he would have served for 14 years, assuming the incumbent senator wins in 2019 and finishes his term in 2025.
For his part, Mr. Chong said the disqualification case he filed is the first of its kind, and expects that it will be appealed before the Supreme Court.
“This is the first case for a senator, which is why we’re bringing it up to the Commission on Elections and eventually, perhaps kung sino mananalo sa atin (whoever wins), we will go to the Supreme Court.” — Gillian M. Cortez