Mati City sets stage for Pimentel's oath taking

Subscribe Now August 12, 2011 at 02:12pm

The City Government here sets the stage for the historic oath-taking ceremony Thursday of Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III. The Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) on Thursday declared Pimentel winner of the contested 12th seat more than four years after the 2007 senatorial elections.

Pimentel will swear in before Davao Oriental Governor Corazon Malanyaon at the covered court of the Provincial Capitol following a 9 a.m. mass.

Family and friends of the neophyte senator as well as local officials here are expected to attend the ceremony, where Mayor Michelle Rabat of this city is set to deliver a message.

Rabat earlier said Pimentel's choice of Mati as the venue of his oath-taking only shows that the incoming senator has his heart for Mindanao.

The mayor said that back in 2007 when the senatorial electoral count was still ongoing, Pimentel already publicly expressed his desire to take oath before the people of Mati.

"It shows he is really from Mindanao and that he has a word of honor," Rabat said of Pimentel.

Pimentel posted highest number of votes in Mati City although he admitted that he campaigned less in the city. He placed third to Senators Loren Legarda and Francis Escudero in the local count.

Pimentel had been locked in a recount battle since 2007, when he lost the mid-term senatorial race to rival Juan Miguel Zubiri.

He filed a fraud protest after the results, citing witness statements that fake ballots were used to favor allies of then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Zubiri resigned as senator last week saying he wanted to spare his family from the ongoing controversy.

Senator Pia Cayetano, a member of the SET, said the decision was based on the evidence presented by Pimentel in his protest showing many ballots were spurious.

Ballots lacking security features like watermarks, or those that were written by the same person or group of people were deemed spurious, she said.

Pimentel's electoral protest covered 2,658 precincts and 664 pilot precincts in Maguindanao, Lanao del Norte, and Sultan Kudarat, according to Pimentel's website (www.pimentelprotest.ph). A SET resolution in June 2008 said that in six of the nine pilot municipalities in Maguindanao and Lanao Del Norte, 98.15 percent of the votes cast were spurious.

On the final tally of votes, Pimentel won the race with 10,898,786 against Zubiri's 10,640,620 with a difference of 258,166 votes.

Meanwhile, Malacañang on Thursday congratulated Pimentel on his proclamation.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said that with Pimentel's poll victory now official, "at the very least, the people’s mandate has been served."

Pimentel had previously said he wanted to support the Aquino administration.

That promise of support may be tested during Senate debates on the controversial Reproductive Health bill. The President has expressed support for responsible parenthood and the passage of the measure.

In June, Pimentel and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) secretary general Jose De Venecia III declared their opposition of the bill. They said that as Catholics, they "could not in all conscience" support the bill.

Pimentel, who is PDP-Laban president, is set to officially in his new job Monday. He earlier indicated that he will side with the Senate majority, of which party mate Senator Sergio Osmeña III is a member.

A law professor at the University of the East College of Law and a practicing lawyer, Pimentel topped the bar exams in 1990 after graduating from the University of the Philippines College of Law.

Source: sunstar.com.ph



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