Topacio asks SC to unseat Koko Pimentel, insists he’s now on his third term

Abogado Ferdinand Topacio has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to remove Senator Aquilino Pimentel III from the Senate and insisted that he was now serving a third consecutive term prohibited by the 1987 Constitution.

In a recent petition for certiorari, Topacio asked the SC to set aside the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) decision to uphold Pimentel’s certificate of candidacy to run in the May 13, 2019 elections.

He attacked Pimentel’s candidacy on the grounds of material misrepresentation.

Pimentel ran during the May 2007 and May 2013 elections for six-year terms. In 2007, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri was initially proclaimed to be the candidate with the 12th highest number of votes.

But, after the revision and appreciation of the ballots and election documents from the contested areas, Pimentel was shown to lead his rival by 258,166 votes. On August 11, 2011, the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) declared him the winner but he actually served for one year and nine months of that term.

Topacio, however, argued that “a term of office, in its legal sense, always has a definite end even when the actual commencement differs from the prescribed beginning.”

In other words, even if Pimentel could not begin his first term right away, Topacio said this should still be counted for the purposes of ineligibility to run in the 2019 elections.

“The term 2013-2019 should have been considered as respondent Pimentel’s second term pursuant to Section 4, Article VI, of the 1987 Constitution,” he added.

The Comelec, in siding with Pimentel, cited the precedent set by the SC in its January 8, 2013 decision in the case of Viga, Catanduanes, Mayor Abelardo Abundo.

It reasoned out that the SC, in Abundo’s case, “ruled that the two-year period during which Abundo’s opponent was serving as mayor should be considered as an interruption in his service, which effectively removed Abundo’s case from the ambit of the three-term rule.”

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