MANILA—Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Friday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to dismiss a petition against his candidacy, saying he could still run for senator in next year’s elections because of an “involuntary interruption” to his first term.
The constitution allows senators to serve only 2 consecutive terms, a prohibition raised by lawyer Ferdinand Topacio against Pimentel, who first won in the 2007 senatorial election.
But Pimentel was able to assume only in 2011 after a successful election protest against Juan Miguel Zubiri, who had occupied his seat during the first 4 years.
Pimentel won another 6-year term in 2013.
“An involuntarily interrupted term cannot be considered as one term for purposes of counting the two-term limit rule invoked by the petitioner,” he said in his reply to the petition.
“At most, this should be rightly called a tenure only,” he added, noting that he actually served only 1 year and 10 months of his initial term.
Pimentel sought to boost his argument, citing a Supreme Court ruling in favor of a Catanduanes town mayor, who was allowed to run again because of an interrupted term.
In Pimentel’s case, the senator told the Comelec that he failed to “fully serve” his 2007-2013 term “for reasons contrary (to) or against (my) will.”
Aside from the Topacio petition, former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong also asked the poll body to reject Pimentel’s certificate of candidacy.
Like Topacio, Chong insisted that Pimentel was term-limited and running again next year was “unconstitutional, illegal, and highly immoral.”