THE Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) has dismissed the quo warranto petition which sought to declare Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III ineligible for the senatorial term 2019 to 2025.
In a 17-page decision dated June 03, 2020, the SET said: “The instant consolidated petitions for quo warranto (against Pimentel) are hereby dismissed for lack of merit.”
The SET ruled Pimentel was not prohibited to run and be elected for the 2019 to 2025 senatorial term “as he has yet to serve two consecutive senatorial terms in full within the contemplation of prevailing law and jurisprudence.”
The decision was signed by SET chairperson Senior Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, and SET members Associate Alfredo Benjamin Caguiao, Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo, and Senators Richard Gordon, Pia Cayetano, Nancy Binay, Emmanuel Pacquiao, Franklin Drilon, and Manuel Lapid.
The quo warranto petition was filed on May 31, 2019 by Reymar Mansilunga and Efren Adan, who claimed Pimentel was no longer eligible to run in the 2019 senatorial race since he had already completed two consecutive terms. The complainants said that if he won the elections, if would be his third consecutive term which is not allowed under the Constitution.
Section 4, Article VI of the Constitution allows senators to only serve two consecutive six-year terms, or 12 straight years.
The complainants said Pimentel had already served two consecutive terms – from 2007 to 2013 and 2013 to 2019, and thus was already disqualified to run again.
The SET, however, pointed out that Pimentel has not served two full terms as senator, citing an earlier decision which proclaimed Pimentel the rightful winner of the 12th Senate seat during the 2007 elections only on August 2011.
“The involuntary interrupted time, cannot, in the context of the disqualification rule, be considered as one term for purposes of counting the term threshold… Respondent was not prohibited to run and be elected for the 2019 to 2025 senatorial term as he has yet to serve two consecutive senatorial terms in full within the contemplation of prevailing law and jurisprudence,” the SET said.
The SET likewise noted that the Commission on Elections allowed Pimentel to run in the 2019 polls.
Pimentel thanked the SET for its objectivity in coming up with the decision.
“We hope this decision contributes to the development of case law on the issue just as our arguments have led to the possible amendments and improvements of the SET rules,” Pimentel said.