Petitions questioning Pimentel’s win junked
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has hurdled the legal challenges to his fresh six-year term after the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) tossed out the quo warranto petitions questioning his third consecutive victory for a Senate seat in the 2019 midterm elections.
The SET, composed of three Supreme Court justices and six senators, unanimously voted to thumb down for lack of merit the disqualification cases separately filed against Pimentel by petitioners Reymar Mansilungan and Efrena Adan.
“In conclusion, [Pimentel] was not prohibited to run and be elected for the 2019-2025 senatorial term as he has yet to serve two consecutive senatorial terms in full within the contemplation of prevailing law and jurisprudence,” the SET said in its June 3 ruling, which the media secured only on Tuesday.
Citing previous rulings of the high court, the electoral body dismissed the petitioners’ claim that Pimentel flouted Section 4, Article VI of the Constitution that limits a senator’s stay in office to two six-year terms.
It said Pimentel’s supposed first term from 2007 to 2013 was “involuntarily interrupted” when then Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri was initially proclaimed winner of the 12th and final seat in the chamber by the Commission on Elections.
Zubiri stayed over four years in office before quitting his post in August 2011 after it became apparent that the SET would vote in favor of Pimentel’s electoral protest against him.
The senator eventually ran and won a second term in the 2013 elections.
“Being an interrupted term, the 2007 to 2013 senatorial term cannot be counted against [Pimentel] for purposes of counting the term limitation provided by the Constitution,” the SET argued.
The ruling was signed by Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe as SET chair and Associate Justices Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Alexander Gesmundo as members.
Also voting in favor of Pimentel were his colleagues—Senators Richard Gordon, Nancy Binay, Pia Cayetano, Manny Pacquiao, Franklin Drilon and Lito Lapid.
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