Nene and Koko: Same bloodline, same party line but father and son’s martial law views don’t align

June 1, 2017 - 7:00 PM
InterAksyon/News5 file photos of former senator Nene Pimentel and Senate president Koko Pimentel

MANILA, Philippines – They come from the same bloodline, share the same name, and espouse one party line.

But when it comes to some issues about martial law, the views of this father and son don’t align, apparently a proof that the saying – a tree will bear fruit of its kind – isn’t true all the time.

On Thursday, June 1, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel II gave a contrary opinion to his son and namesake’s position that a joint congressional session wasn’t needed following President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law proclamation.

According to the elder Pimentel, a human rights lawyer, law school dean and a staunch critic of martial law during the Marcos regime, the joint session is the “duty” of Congress — the House of Representatives and the Senate — because “that’s what the Constitution provides.”

“Within 48 hours from declaration of martial law, President [Rodrigo] Duterte is obligated to submit his report in writing or in person before the Senate and the House in joint session. Kung walang session [If there’s no session], call a special session,” Pimentel told reporters during the necrological service for former senator Eva Estrada Kalaw at the Senate in Pasay City.

But incumbent Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, also the president of the ruling PDP-Laban Party which his father founded, earlier said the joint session wasn’t needed because Duterte’s martial law proclamation did not need legislative nod and there was no clamor among legislators to move for its revocation.

“(I)f the sentiment is we agree, then the question now is do we need to still assemble in joint session just to express our sentiment that we agree? I don’t think we have to do that,” the younger Pimentel, a Bar topnotcher, said late last month.

On Wednesday, Koko led 12 senators who voted against Resolution 390 calling on Congress to convene a joint session to tackle the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

However, Nene insisted the following day that convening a joint session “is mandated by” the Charter even if most lawmakers favor Duterte’s May 23 proclamation “because the people have to know ano ba puno’t dulo nito [what is the beginning and end of this].”

Father to son: don’t let them judge you for what I say

Did Koko consult Nene about the issue? No, he didn’t, according to the elder Pimentel, who said that he had just advised his son to “do what you think is right” and “do not let people judge you because of what I say.”

Asked by reporters to comment on Koko’s position on the convening of a joint session, Nene said, “”What I understand is that he had so many ‘ifs’ preliminary to this thing. If, if, if and then, and you give a general statement.”

“But if you base the actions of the Senate and the House, it has to be on the basis of what the Constitution mandates because the people have to know,” the former Senate president added.

Asked if he thought that Duterte would eventually impose martial law nationwide, Nene said, “I do not see that.”

“Even if verbally he says martial law will be harsh, he knows there are now restrictions imposed by the Constitution, unlike before when Marcos declared martial law, it’s up to Marcos to do what he wants to do. Now he has to listen to the injunctions of the Constitution,” he added.

Amid political wranglings over the martial law issue, the elder Pimentel urged Filipinos to let their voice be heard.

“If the people think there is something wrong, they should speak out,” added the elder Pimentel, who as Cagayan de Oro mayor and later a leader of the national opposition was jailed five times by the dictator Marcos.

“We are a democracy, that is the job of the people. Good governance does not depend on the governors alone but also on the governed.”