Senatorial candidate Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III does not mind getting elected even if it is just because of his name.

In a podcast interview by inquirer.net last February 20, he explained that it is because he is proud to have that name, considering the track record of his father, Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.

“My father has been in public service since the 1970s. That’s close to 36 years of unblemished public service,” he said. “But I will also tell the people that I have some qualifications of my own.”

Aside from being a lawyer, Pimentel said that one advantage he has is that he is the only one in the Genuine Opposition who is from Mindanao. He said that he wants to represent Mindanao because it is disproportionately represented in the Senate, considering its voting population which accounts for one-fourth of the country’s total. For him, that’s a distinct advantage.

Another advantage he has is that he has experience in socio-civic work, he said. He was a commissioner of the National Youth Commission from 1995 to 1998. He was a president of the Rotary Club of Manila Bay and is active in the Philippine Jaycees. He is also the secretary general of the political party Partidong Demokratikong Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan.

Born on January 20, 1964, Aquilino Martin Pimentel III is the third child and the eldest son of Senator Nene Pimentel and Lourdes de la Llana. He now lives in Marikina City with his wife Jewel May Lobaton, who was 1998 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe, and their son. But he was born in Cagayan de Oro City, the Pimentels’ hometown, where he ran for mayor in 2001 but was beaten by the incumbent Vicente Emano.

Now, he chose to run for senator so that he can look at the problems of the country at the macro level, he said in the podcast interview. “I don’t want to propose laws good only for a certain geographic area, which congressmen are more prone to propose.”

According to him, the biggest problem of Filipinos is poverty. He likened the Philippines to a family whose parents do not earn enough income. He offered three solutions to the problem.

First, he said that we Filipinos should observe the rule of law. In his campaign website, Aquilino Pimentel for Senator Movement, Pimentel defines the rule of law as the stability of judicial decisions as well as executive policies and the impartiality, fairness, and promptness of our justice system. He believes that by following the rule of law, foreign and local investors would be convinced to invest in our country, thereby creating jobs for our people.

His second solution was the promotion of a culture of sharing. “It is time for the rich to help the poor,” he said. He also said that he wants to adopt the template of Gawad Kalinga. For him Gawad Kalinga is a good example of the private sector showing what the government should do. Gawad Kalinga provides man’s basic needs under an integrated plan: land for the landless, accessible housing, sustainable livelihood, and values formation. “We need a `kapitbahayan’ where everyone is helping everybody else,” he said in his website.

The third solution Pimentel suggested was raising the Philippines’ productivity. He said that the country should be a producer and not just a consumer society. And according to him, this could be done by investing in our people’s education. He also believes that a more educated population leads to better government.

However, he said in his website that there should be a focus on science education, which he believes is “the key to the long-term viability of our country.” A strong science culture based on competent and widespread science education will allow us to produce scientists…and in the long-term, will give us the financial freedom and prosperity, he said.

His being into science, he said, is what distinguishes him from his father. He dubs himself as the 2.0i version of his father. While he believes in the issues his father are fighting for, such as basic human freedom and local autonomy, he also wants to place importance on developing technology and making it accessible to more Filipinos.

Pimentel is a B.S. Math graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University where he studied since elementary. He took up law at the University of the Philippines and topped the 1990 Bar Examinations. He has been practicing law since then. He also teaches at the Far Eastern University Institute of Law and College of Business Administration and Legal Management and at the Adamson University College of Law. He is also a legal resource person of the Catholic Media Network

Being a Catholic, he said in the podcast interview that he is against the artificial means of population control. He said he does not attribute our country’s poverty to the large population. In fact, he sees it as human capital which can be used in increasing our productivity. But if there is a need to manage the population growth, he said that it should be done by using natural methods.

Pimentel also commented on political and journalist killings in the podcast interview. He said that he was concerned that journalists are being killed systematically and that this is an attack on the freedom of the press. He also said that he cannot blame any person or establishment as being responsible for the killings yet. However, he said that it is and should be the government’s responsibility to protect its people from such.

As for his stand on constitutional reforms, he said he is open to it. He believes that federalism will lead to faster economic development and will bring about a just and lasting peace to the country especially Mindanao, he said in his campaign website. But as of now, he said in the podcast interview that he is against the changing of the constitution as long as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is the president because of the possible “insertion of a hidden agenda”.

Pimentel believes that the country’s present situation is far from desirable and that the government should adopt certain reforms. One example he mentioned are tax reforms He said he wants to lower the expanded value-added tax from 12% to 5%.

He also said that he wants the US-Philippine Visiting Forces Agreement be reviewed, if not scrapped entirely. According to him, the VFA was wrongly interpreted by the executive branch during the custody battle over US Marine Daniel Smith. When the Makati Regional Trial Court convicted Smith, the court should have been given the power to detain him in a facility agreed upon by both governments as long as it is within the jurisdiction of the court, he said. Since it is possible for the VFA’s provisions to be wrongly interpreted which may be against the Filipino people’s interest, we might as well scrap it, he said.

Of all the issues Pimentel was asked to comment on in his podcast interview, there was one he dismissed as a “non-issue” —- political dynasty. According to him, the political dynasty provision in the 1987 Constitution is stated this way: “The State shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service, and prohibit political dynasties as may be defined by law.” Since there is no law defining what a political dynasty is and also no law prohibiting relatives of incumbent officials from running for public office, it is unfair to single him out, he said in a news release from his website dated January 25.

“Since the second part of the provision is not yet effective, isn’t the first part applicable to me?” he said.

But if he was to get elected and an anti-dynasty bill was filed in the Senate, he said that he will propose to limit its effectivity to the presidency because it is the most powerful position in the entire government bureaucracy.

“What is the evil sought to be prevented by an anti-dynasty provision? It is the unfair advantage of the vast resources of a government office. And in the Office of the President, there are billions of pesos to be spent at the discretion of the president,” he explained.

Pimentel further disputed criticisms that a Pimentel political dynasty is starting by pointing out that his family does not own any business enterprise that will benefit from the prospective presence of two of its members in the Senate.

Senator Nene Pimentel seems to agree. “I believe that the dynasty issue may not accurately depict the situation in our case,” he said in the news release. “In the ultimate analysis, it is the people who will determine and decide whether it is right for Koko to get elected to the Senate.”

The senator may be right. But the people will also be left wondering if Koko will be saying the same thing when his own son, Aquilino Pimentel VI, runs for senator.—- Absolom Jerome U. Eligio

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