By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III on Tuesday denied that he consulted lawyer Ferdinand Topacio on matters relating to his bid for reelection.
Pimentel opposed reports quoting Topacio who, in seeking the former’s disqualification from the senatorial race, said that he advised the senator not to run in the May, 2019 elections for supposedly having completed his term as a senator.
The lawyer even called Pimentel a “longtime friend.”
“There is no truth to Atty. Topacio’s statement that I consulted him about the legal issues surrounding my candidacy. I have never asked Atty. Topacio for any legal opinion in my entire life. There is a very short list of election lawyers I would consult regarding this matter, and he is not on it,” Pimentel said on Tuesday.
In his statement, Pimentel said he would “never” ask for advice from Topacio who, he said, is “better known for starting personal squabbles than winning legal battles.”
He added that the controversial lawyer is “known for feuding with public officials, colleagues in the legal community, and members of the media.”
Pimentel, on the other hand, said he welcomes the disqualification case so that the issue about his term could be settled.
In a separate interview over ANC Tuesday, he disputed Topacio’s arguments against his reelection bid and said that the Constitution did not bar him from running the 2019 midterm polls.
According to Pimentel, who is also a lawyer, Topacio “refuse(s) to understand” the definition of a senator’s “term” under the present Charter.
Citing Section 4 of Article 6, Pimentel said a senator’s term of office starts noon of June 30 following the election.
“You apply that to my situation, I became a senator August 2011, So is that the same? Is that the June 30 after the election of 2007?” he said.
Pimentel maintained that he did not serve a full first term, saying he only served for one year and 10 months before seeking reelection in 2013.
The senator said that his camp will ask for the summary dismissal of Topacio’s petition before the Commission on Elections as he hit its “shallowness.”
“The Constitution, the law, and jurisprudence are on my side. Well-regarded legal minds known for their expertise in election law have likewise chimed in; they agree with my position: I can run for reelection,” he said.
In August 2011, the Senate Electoral Tribunal proclaimed Pimentel as the 12th winning senator of the 2007 midterm polls instead of Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who had already resigned from the Senate then.