Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday said Senator Aquilino Pimentel III should not be disqualified to run for reelection in next year’s mid-term elections despite having served as senator of the Republic in the 16th Congress.
“I would like to put it on record that Senator Pimentel should be able to seek his next term. He should be able to run,” Zubiri said during the regular Kapihan sa Senado media forum.
The Senate leader believed that Pimentel’s reelection bid is in order since the latter was only able to serve a small portion of what should have been his first six-year term, and should not be counted.
Pimentel won a Senate seat in the 2007 polls but was only proclaimed in August 2011 after the Senate Electoral Tribunal ruled in favor of his election protest against Zubiri.
He was again elected as senator in 2013, serving a full six-year term in the 17th Congress.
“As the one that was his main rival for that post in 2007-2013, he only occupied the last two years of his term, it is not a full term, not even a major portion of his term. I believe he should be able seek reelection,” Zubiri said.
Last October, lawyer Ferdinand Topacio filed a disqualification case against Pimentel before the Commission on Elections on the premise that the lawmaker has already reached the term limits for senator set by the 1987 Constitution.
In his petition, Topacio said: “it’s my humble opinion that when Koko Pimentel was declared by the Senate Electoral Tribunal in Aug. 2011 as having won the 2007 Senate electoral race as the winning senator, that constituted his first term.”
The lawyer added that “it did not matter whether or not he (Pimentel) was able to serve all the years that goes with the tenure.”
But despite the Constitutional prohibition on term extension, Zubiri still believed that his fellow senator should be allowed to run for another term, citing the many precedents decided by the Supreme Court like Pimentel’s case.
“There are many jurisprudence already, precedents cited by the Supreme Court on congressmen, mayors who actually sat on the last portion of their terms. And they were able to seek reelection for another full term kasi nga hindi nila nagawa ang kanilang tungkulin (because they have not performed their) functions for at least a major portion of their terms,” he said. (PNA)