Comelec can on its own ‘dismiss’ Pimentel DQ case – Macalintal
Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) could on its own dismiss the petition filed by Ferdinand Topacio to disqualify Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel in the 2019 elections without asking Pimentel to respond or comment.
“The petition to deny due course or cancel the certificate of candidacy of Senator Koko Pimentel in his reelection bid to the Senate in the 2019 election can be dismissed motu propio or on its own by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) without even requiring Pimentel to answer or comment on the petition filed by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio,” Attorney Romulo Macalintal said in a statement on Thursday.
Earlier, Topacio argued that Pimentel already served for two consecutive terms in the Senate which are prohibited under the Constitution.
He explained that the senator had his first term in 2007. The National Board of Canvassers first proclaimed Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri as the 12th winning senator which prompted Pimentel to file an electoral protest against Zubiri. In 2011, the Senate Tribunal then ruled in favor of Pimentel which allowed him to continue Zubiri’s term of two years.
Pimentel, then was re-elected in 2013 and became the Senate President from 2016 to 2018 which is his second term, according to Topacio.
But Macalintal defended that Pimentel became senator only in August 2011 when he won his election protest against Zubiri, noting that he was not able to serve the entire 2007-2013 term.
“Thus, in Pimentel’s case, when he assumed the position of Senator only in August 2011 after winning his election protest against Zubiri, it cannot be said that Pimentel was able to serve the entire 2007 to 2013 term to which he was otherwise entitled,” he said.
Macalintal cited a Supreme Court (SC) ruling in the 2017 case of Albania vs. Comelec which noted that the period that an elective official served on winning an election protest “did not constitute a complete and full service of his term (as) he did not hold the office for the full term of three years to which he was supposedly entitled to.”
He added that the almost four-year period of Zubiri’s term as Senator is considered “an involuntary interruption” of Pimentel’s service which cannot be considered as one term.
“And, as ruled by the Supreme Court, an involuntary interrupted term, cannot, in the context of the disqualification rule, be considered as one term’ for purposes of counting the term limit rule,” he said.
With this case, Macalintal concluded that Pimentel only served for one complete and interrupted term from 2013 to 2019 which may allow him to run for a second term from 2019-2025.
He further defended Pimentel saying the poll body will only waste precious time on an issue ruled upon by the SC.
“Comelec does not even need to conduct any hearing which will only waste its precious time on an issue that it has already or previously ruled upon and sustained by the Supreme Court. The Comelec has this power under its constitutional duty to “enforce and administer all laws” relating to the conduct of elections,” he said./ac
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.