Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III insisted yesterday he is not barred from seeking reelection next year because he would just be seeking a second consecutive Senate term, and not a third.
The former Senate president maintained that while he ran for the Senate in the 2007 elections, he was only able to assume office on August 11, 2011 after winning his electoral protest against Miguel Zubiri.
“If there are term limits, the law assumes that the term was served in full. If the term was interrupted or has not been served in full, it is not actually a term,” said Pimentel.
In a TV interview, Pimentel averred that his sitting in the Senate from 2011 to 2013 did not count as an actual term, thus his 2013-2019 term as senator would actually be his first term.
He said the Supreme Court had already ruled in cases involving local government officials – that the remainder of a term won by way of an election protest cannot be considered a term.
Pimentel emphasized that for the prohibition against a third consecutive term to apply, the first two terms must have been served in full and not interrupted.
Zubiri and Pimentel, as colleagues in the present Senate, seemed to have already buried the animosity generated by their clash before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) from 2007 to 2011.
In that poll protest, the SET credited Pimentel with 10,898,786 votes and Zubiri with 10,640,620 after the recount.
Prior to the release of the final tally, Zubiri resigned from his post, but reiterated he was not involved in any electoral fraud in 2007.
During the same TV interview, Pimentel said the administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) is still awaiting approval by President Rodrigo Duterte of their possible senatorial line-up.
“The Speaker (Pantaleon Alvarez) and I have decided to keep the list secret in the meantime and submit this for comments of the President this month or next month,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel said PDP-Laban has more than 12 names as possible senatorial candidates, all of whom must pledge to pursue federalism in place of the present Presidential form of government.
Being touted as a leading administration candidate is Special Presidential Assistant Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go, who has figured strongly in a recent senatorial survey.
Go, however, maintained that a Senate run is not in his radar at this time since he is focused on his work as President Duterte’s top aide.
Last November, Alvarez said Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque are also potential senatorial candidates for PDP-Laban.