MANILA (UPDATE) - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday junked petitions against Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, allowing him to seek a fresh 6-year term in May.
The poll body ruled in favor of Pimentel, who was unable to fully serve his first term from 2007 to 2013 because of an election protest.
Juan Miguel Zubiri occupied the seat during the first 4 years, resigning shortly before Pimentel was officially declared the rightful winner.
“It is clear that Pimentel has not fully served his first term as senator,” the Comelec’s first division ruled. “Thus, the 2-term limit does not yet apply to him.”
Pimentel welcomed the Comelec ruling, noting that the cases served as barriers to his reelection bid.
"I am very happy that the Comelec has finally decided on the cases which have served as a Damocles sword over my candidacy. With this issue over, I can now expect the people to judge my candidacy on the basis of my qualification, achievements, & plans and advocacies," he said in a statement.
The two petitioners — lawyers Ferdinand Topacio and Glenn Chong — earlier told the Comelec that Pimentel should not be allowed to run again for senator this May because he was serving his second and last term.
The Philippine Constitution allows senators to sit for 2 consecutive terms.
Pimentel is running under the ruling PDP-Laban party. He is also among the 13 senatorial candidates endorsed by Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a regional party formed by President Rodrigo Duterte’s daughter.
-with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News