The announcement came quietly and was almost drowned by the day’s highly charged events at the Senate impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona.
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III yesterday confirmed that he had separated from Jewel May Lobaton, his wife of almost 12 years, with whom he has two sons.
“This may well be the most difficult public pronouncement I will ever be making in my entire life. And painful too, as every separation involves a certain degree of pain,” the senator said in a statement e-mailed to reporters Tuesday night.
“I confirm my separation from my wife of close to 12 years, Jewel May Lobaton. We have been living separately since November 2011.”
“I tried my best to resolve our differences for the sake of our two boys but have failed to do so. Now that we have separated, my main concern is the welfare of the boys,” the senator added.
Pimentel sought “prayers from my supporters and the understanding of our people whom I serve.”
“I want to assure them that this situation will not affect the discharge of my duties as a senator,” he said.
Rumors first began circulating earlier this year about Pimentel’s separation from Lobaton, the 1998 Bb. Pilipinas-Universe pageant winner.
The earlier buzz in the House of Representatives was that Pimentel had lost his spouse to a fellow lawmaker, Bacolod Representative Anthony Rolando T. Golez Jr., a doctor who served in the Palace during the Arroyo administration.
Sources said Golez and Lobaton, a native of Bacolod, had been frequently seen together at restaurants and malls outside Metro Manila. The two were also reportedly working together on various projects, including a feeding program.
Golez used to be the chief of the National Disaster Coordinating Council and a deputy spokesperson of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He ran under the Nationalist People’s Coalition in the 2010 elections.
Pimentel then chose not to speak on the matter, at one point telling the Philippine Daily Inquirer that his marital affairs were “not news.” Golez also declined to comment.
In March, Pimentel’s father, former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., gave hints of the status of his son’s marriage.
“Both of them need the prayers of friends and family to rectify whatever error they might have committed against their marriage vows,” the elder Pimentel said of the couple in a text message to the Inquirer.
“The parties are adults. They should be able to give you a much better explanation than I could ever make,” the former senator added.
Sources close to the family told the Inquirer that the younger Pimentel had already moved to a rented condominium unit with his two sons.
The sources said the couple’s marriage had been on the rocks even before Pimentel was proclaimed senator on Aug. 12, 2011, three years after pursuing an election protest against Juan Miguel Zubiri.