Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri is backing the reelection bid of his former political rival, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, and says he will campaign for the latter in next year’s polls.
Pimentel’s candidacy in the 2019 midterm elections has been questioned on the ground that he is barred from seeking a third consecutive term as senator.
But Pimentel has contended that since he was not able to serve his first term in full, he could run for another term next year.
It was Zubiri whom Pimentel had accused of stealing his victory in the 2007 elections through vote number manipulations.
In 2011, Pimentel was proclaimed the rightful winner and took his oath as senator.
On Tuesday, Zubiri said he would support and endorse all the reelectionist senators from the majority bloc, including Pimentel.
Term’s last 2 years
“For the record, as the one [who] was his main rival for that post from 2007 to 2013, he only occupied the last two years of his term. It’s not even the majority of his term. I believe he should be able to seek reelection,” Zubiri said at the Kapihan sa Senado forum.
He said this was backed by jurisprudence, citing the fact that the Supreme Court allowed local officials to seek reelection after they were unable to serve their previous terms in full.
“I hope he would not be disqualified. I don’t think it would be fair for him,” he added.
The other senators from the majority bloc that Zubiri vowed to support were Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito, Nancy Binay, Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe.
As for opposition Sen. Bam Aquino, who is also up for re-election, Zubiri said Aquino had the support of his father, Bukidnon Gov. Jose Zubiri.
Zubiri said he would rather campaign for his colleagues in the majority because they had helped him in getting his bills approved.
He noted that nobody from the administration helped him when he ran for senator in 2013.
He was even barred from campaigning in certain areas on orders of the administration at the time, he added.
“Politics in our country works that way. So please don’t get mad at me when I go out and say the names of five or six senators,” he said.
Pimentel faced another roadblock in his bid for reelection on Thursday after former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong filed a disqualification case against him with the Commission on Elections.
“This is not an attack on his person. I am saddened that Senator Pimentel, being a lawyer and legislator, is unmindful of the term limits set by the Constitution,” Chong said in a statement.
He said Pimentel’s filing of his certificate of candidacy was “unsconstitutional, illegal and highly immoral.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.