MANILA -- Petitions to disqualify two prominent politicians remain unresolved even if they were included on the list candidates in May, an election commission spokesman clarified Monday.
This means Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and former Sen. Sergio Osmeña III can still be disqualified depending on how the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will rule on their cases, said James Jimenez.
Pimentel and Osmeña were among the 76 senatorial candidates on the Comelec’s partial list made public last Saturday, but only because they were not considered as “nuisance,” Jimenez said.
“That is something that has to be clarified — the cases specifically involving Sen. Koko Pimentel and former Sen. Serge Osmeña are not yet over,” he told reporters.
Jimenez earlier said, referring to the partial list: “The fact that they are there means the decisions were in favor of them. Kandidato na sila (They're candidates).”
Pimentel is facing two petitions questioning his eligibility to run for another term in the May senatorial election.
The senator allegedly is on his second and last term after assuming the position in 2011. He served the last two years of his 6-year term after winning his electoral protest against Juan Miguel Zubiri.
The Comelec’s campaign finance office is seeking the “perpetual disqualification” of Osmeña for failing to file his campaign expense reports for two consecutive elections.
“It might seem like a simple yes-or-no question, but it actually is not,” Jimenez said of the cases against Pimentel and Osmeña.
“There are deep legal issues that are involved that have to be considered and that is why the Comelec is taking the time it needs to answer these intelligently.”
The Comelec was supposed to release the final list of candidates in mid-December, but did so only last Saturday, raising concerns that printing of the ballots might be delayed.
Jimenez acknowledged that “the timetable is getting tight.”
“Every day that we wait, we are cutting down our buffer and we expect that that will, of course, exert pressure on the process,” he said.
Jimenez said ballots approximately 22-24 inches long would likely be printed starting Feb. 2.