MANILA, Philippines — Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio asked the Supreme Court to cancel the certificate of candidacy of Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and declare him as ineligible to run as senator for 2019 to 2025 over an alleged violation of term limits.
Topacio filed a petition for certiorari claiming that the Commission on Elections acted with grave abuse of discretion when it junked his petition urging the cancellation of Pimentel’s certificate of candidacy.
Topacio said that when Pimentel filed for a Certificate of Candidacy for the 2019 elections, it was already the latter’s “third consecutive time of filing for a COC for a senatorial seat in three consecutive national elections (i.e. 2007 Elections, 2013 Elections and 2019 Elections).”
The lawyer insisted that Pimentel’s first term started when he took his oath of office on Aug. 12, 2011.
In 2007, Pimentel ran for senator but lost the last slot to Sen. Miguel Zubiri, whose victory he questioned before the Senate Electoral Tribunal. Pimentel later on replaced Zubiri when the latter resigned in 2011.
Pimentel won in the 2013 elections, his second time to run. He served for six years.
Topacio questioned this and said that Pimentel “should not be allowed to run for, or hold a, senatorial seat via the 2019 elections” since it would be his third consecutive term as a senator, which violaters the Constitution.
Article VI, Section 4 of the Constitution provides that "no Senator shall serve for more than two consecutive terms."
But the Comelec dismissed Topacio’s petition for lack of merit, as it held the term when Zubiri also held office cannot be counted as Pimentel’s first term of office.
In his petition before the SC, Topacio quoted Aldovino Jr. et. Al. v. Comelec where the SC said that term “means the time during which the officer may claim to hold office as a right.”
“[T]here is no requirement that the officer actually assume office on the exact day the term commences or that the officer actually ends his term on the exact day the term ends,” he said.
“Since [Pimentel] won the 2007 Elections, he may claim to hold the senatorial seat within 2007 to 2013, which he did when he took his oath of office on 12 August 2011 and assumed office until 30 June 2013,” he added.
Topacio urged the SC to cancel Pimentel COC for the 2019 midterm elections and hold him as ineligible as a senator for period beginning 30 June 2019 to 30 June 2025. — Kristine Joy Patag
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