MANILA, Philippines – They should have been together in the Senate in the 14th Congress but it seemed fate had a better plan for the father and son from Mindanao.
Now, both former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr and son Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III belong to the exclusive club of Senate Presidents, after the latter was elected into the office on Monday, July 25.
The Pimentel patriarch was the head of the Senate from November 13, 2000 to July 23, 2001, and co-presided the impeachment trial of then President Joseph Estrada.
The younger Pimentel had nothing but good words for his father, saying it was the former senator who opened his eyes to public service.
“I would like to specifically thank my Tatay, former Senate President Nene Pimentel, for inspiring me to become a senator and for inculcating in me the aptitude of focusing on the people, their problems, and their needs,” he said in his acceptance speech.
“Tatay, I may not have been able to work with you in the Senate but at least I will join you on the list of our country’s Senate presidents,” the young senator added.
Koko ran for senator in the 2007 elections but failed to make it in the so-called Magic 12. Pimentel filed an electoral protest against Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who was then proclaimed the 12th winning senator narrowly defeating Pimentel.
Zubiri later resigned amid a poll fraud scandal in Maguindanao, saying he did so not as an admission of guilt but because the issue had divided the nation and cast doubt on the electoral system. Pimentel took his oath as senator in August 2011, after the Senate Electoral Tribunal proclaimed him as the 12th winning senator in the 2007 race.
By that time, his father's term had already expired.
Proud, humbled father
The elder Pimentel, for his part, could not hide how proud he is of his son. After all, the Senate was initially an uphill battle for the young senator.
At the same time, the Pimentel patriarch said he is “humbled” by how much the incumbent senators trust his son.
“Proud and at the same time humbled. Humbled by the thought that his colleagues have seen faith to elect him Senate President. And that is a humbling thought for a father… to see his son grow, hoping that he would be of service to the people,” Nene Pimentel told reporters.
Asked if he would serve as the new Senate President’s adviser, the former chamber leader jokingly said: “Adviser? Walang bayad yun (I won't get paid for that).”
Turning serious, Nene Pimentel said he has only given “general” pieces of advice to his son, as he wants Koko to earn his keep as a senator on his own.
“Only that in general terms because I want him to earn the respect of the people on his own not because he is my son,” he said.
Pimentel, for his part, said his father’s advice to him is to “respect the rights of the minority.”
The father and son are members of the ruling PDP-Laban, the party of President Rodrigo Duterte. The older Pimentel was among those who established the political party in 1986.
"It is important that even as he is identified with the administration, to see to it that the laws and policies that will be defined by the Senate will always uphold the general welfare of the people," the elder Pimentel said. – Rappler.com
Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email firstname.lastname@example.org