MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is "very happy" for new Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III who has taken his oath as senator of the republic in Davao Oriental today after a 4-year election protest battle at the Senate Electoral Tribunal(SET) against resigned senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri.
De Lima has a personal stake in Pimentel's victory. After all, she was Pimentel's election lawyer in the 2007 senatorial elections and prepared his protest case.
"Of course, I'm very happy for Koko. Long overdue na rin yung proclamation na yan," she said.
De Lima stressed that there was no doubt in her mind in 2007, as there is no doubt in her mind now, that Pimentel won the race over Zuburi who was then officially proclaimed winner for the 12th senate seat.
"When I handled his case way back when I was still in practice, there was no doubt in my mind about the Maguindanao results. [Those] were really manufactured results. Without the Maguindanao results, hindi dapat na-proclaim si former senator Migz Zubiri," De Lima said.
The SET's final tally reveals Pimentel led Zubiri by 258,166 votes.
Zubiri was proclaimed in 2007 on the basis of a mere 18,000-vote margin over Pimentel.
Pimentel took his oath of office today at the Davao Oriental provincial capitol a day after being proclaimed by the SET.
He placed second in the province in the 2007 senatorial race in spite of not having campaigned there.
The province's officials also conferred on him today the title of "Adopted Son of Davao Oriental."