“Yes, there is indeed a sense of urgency because if, in fact and in law, the occupation of Senator Pimentel of his seat is unconstitutional, then everything that he discharges as senator is an affront to the Constitution,” he said.
Senate PRIB/Joseph Vidal, File
Lawyer presses SC to tackle Pimentel’s 2019 candidacy
Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio yesterday said there is a sense of urgency for the Supreme Court (SC) to tackle the petition questioning the legality of Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III to run and win a seat in the 2019 senatorial race because it is an affront to the Constitution. 

“Yes, there is indeed a sense of urgency because if, in fact and in law, the occupation of Senator Pimentel of his seat is unconstitutional, then everything that he discharges as senator is an affront to the Constitution,” he said. 

Pimentel refused to answer questions from media, saying he would submit a reply to the petition.

“I was asked (by the SC) to comment, so I will not make any comment (to the media),” Pimentel said. “I will just inform the SC that I have a pending case with SET (Senate Electoral Tribunal). The cases cannot branch out.”

In the 17-page petition for certiorari before the SC, Topacio asked the High Court to issue an order annulling and setting aside the Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolutions dated Feb. 13, 2019 and Dec. 13, 2019.

He also asked the Court to deny due course or cancel the certificate of candidacy (COC) of Pimentel and to hold him ineligible as a senator for the period June 30, 2019 until June 30, 2025.   

He asked whether or not the period beginning Aug. 12, 2011 and ending June 30, 2013 should be counted as Pimentel’s first senatorial term and if Pimentel perpetrated material representation in his COC when he attested therein that he is eligible to run for another senatorial seat.  

Topacio said the poll body allegedly erred in the application of relevant provisions of law and the Constitution, as well as acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction because Pimentel never stepped down as senator since he first took his oath of office on Aug. 12, 2011.

He also believed that from Aug. 12, 2011 to June 30, 2013, the senator served his first term in office, and that his second term in office was from 2013 until 2019.   

On July 14, 2007, the Comelec en banc, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, proclaimed Juan Miguel Zubiri as the 12th senator elected in the 2007 elections. Zubiri had a vote margin of 21,519 votes over his closest rival Pimentel, who landed in the 13th slot.  

Pimentel challenged the election results and he was declared by the SET as the duly elected 12th senator in the 2007 senatorial race, annulling Zubiri’s prior proclamation.

“Since respondent 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. In other words, he utilized the term (i.e. 2007 to 2013) that was reserved for him,” Topacio said.  

Pimentel utilized another term from 2013 until June 30, 2019. 

“Respondent Comelec erred and acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it failed to realize that respondent Pimentel already assumed the office and performed the duties of a senator for seven to eight years,” the petitioner said. – With Cecille Suerte-Felipe

FERDINAND TOPACIO SUPREME COURT
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