MANILA (UPDATE) - Reelectionist Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III backed out of the " Harapan 2019: The ABS-CBN Senatorial Town Hall Debate" on Sunday.
ABS-CBN News anchor Karen Davila said Pimentel begged off from joining because he has personal matters to attend to.
Pimentel was supposed to go head-to-head with candidates Bam Aquino, Glenn Chong, Jiggy Manicad, Samira Gutoc, Florin Hilbay, Francis Tolentino, Chel Diokno, Larry Gadon, and Willie Ong.
It was just last week when Pimentel got the green light from the Commission on Elections to seek a fresh 6-year term in the May 13 polls.
The former Senate president was unable to fully serve his first term from 2007 to 2013 because of an election protest.
His seat was instead occupied by Juan Miguel Zubiri during the first 4 years. Zubiri resigned shortly before Pimentel was officially declared the rightful winner.
Pimentel, who is running under the ruling PDP-Laban party, is among the 11 senatorial candidates endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
He is also endorsed by Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a regional party formed by the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.