Zubiri: SC ruling on Pimentel bid seals case

Posted at 03/14/08 10:58 PM

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri on Friday welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition filed by Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III who sought to invalidate the votes in Maguindanao in the May 2007 senatorial elections.

"The Supreme Court decision is a welcome development, this finally puts to a close any questions with regards to the legality of my proclamation," said Zubiri.

In a 40-page decision penned by Associate Justice Minita Chico Nazario, the high court said it has no jurisdiction to discuss a petition regarding an election contest.

The election protest, the SC said, should be under the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

“Though there is still a pending protest in the Senate electoral tribunal and we were cautioned not to discuss our opinions on that case, nevertheless this protest shall not distract me in the performance of my duties and responsibilities," Zubiri said.

Pimentel, a son and namesake of the Senate minority leader, claimed that the votes from Maguindanao were rigged in favor of Zubiri, a candidate of the administration’s Team Unity.

Pimentel failed to get a temporary restraining order after oral arguments for the protest were heard in the court, which allowed the poll body to proclaim Zubiri as the winning senator to take the last slot in the Magic 12.

"The Supreme Court decision inspires me to work harder as a duly elected senator of the country," Zubiri said.

According to the COMELEC's official Web site, Pimentel got 10,987,347 votes against Zubiri's 11,005,866.

Meanwhile, Pimentel’s legal counsel told ANC’s "Top Story" newscast that they have yet to see a copy of the Court’s decision.

“If it were really a dismissal, The Supreme Court has dismissed our petition on the ground that it has no jurisdiction over the issue--we're not really surprised about it because we have actually now an election protest filed precisely before the Senate Electoral Tribunal,” said Leila De lima.

De Lima said that in their petition before the Supreme Court, they would have wanted the Court to “reorder a reopening of the proceedings of the COMELEC sitting at the National Board of Canvassers in order for it to allow us to prove our basic claim that the Maguindanao COCs were actually manufactured.”

"That was the very issue raised before the Supreme Court -- that we were denied due process by the COMELEC national board of canvassers relative to the Maguindanao results," she said.

She added that they have to study the high xourt’s resolution before taking any action.

"We have yet to reserve our options. We need to see first that 40-page resolution of the Supreme Court before we can determine our next course of action," she said. With a report from Marieton Pacheco, ABS-CBN News