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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, July 7, 2012
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Return our boys,
Jewel asks Koko

A legal battle may be looming between Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and his estranged wife, Jewel May Lobaton of Bacolod City, over the custody of their two sons.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III with his wife, Jewel May Lobaton, and their boys in August last year.*

The lawyers of Lobaton and Pimentel have been negotiating their terms of custody for the boys. But Lobaton yesterday said Pimentel took the boys – Aquilino Martin Emmanuel Pimentel VI, 8, and Aquilino Justo Pimentel VII, 2 – who were in her custody and has not returned them to her.

She said that for more than a week, she has been asking Pimentel to allow her to see their children and to return them to her but the senator turned down her requests, Lobaton told the DAILY STAR.

“It has been more than a week that I am begging for Koko to show our two boys to me. I've not seen them and I am in pain, ” said Lobaton, former Miss MassKara and Binibining Pilipinas-Universe title holder, who represented the country in the Miss Universe pageant in 1998.

“I never wanted to make this a legal battle as it will affect mostly our children. But Koko ignores my requests,” she said.

Reached for comment, Pimentel denied that he was preventing his wife from seeing their children. He said Lobaton is free to see their children if she wants to, or visit their older son at the Ateneo de Manila where he is studying.

Pimentel admitted that the two children were staying with his parents in Quezon City. “We are currently negotiating the terms of custody of the boys,” he told the DAILY STAR.

Pimentel announced last May that he had been separated from Lobaton, his wife of almost 12 years, since November 2011. He didn't say what triggered the separation, except that they had failed to resolve their differences.

But Lobaton said they used to share custody although the boys were staying with her in her house in Quezon City.

She said she allowed the senator to see the children anytime he wanted “even if I know he didn't deserve that,” she said, because he is their father and “ I trusted him and gave him the respect he deserves.”

On June 28, Lobaton claimed that Pimentel borrowed her sons and promised to return them to her on July 1. But six days had passed and the boys were still with Pimentel, she added.

Lobaton said she learned that the senator left her sons to the care of his parents. Sometimes, the boys were just left with their nannies, she added.

“Up to now, I ask permission if I can see the boys in school when I know I can just visit and get the kids. I am waiting for his approval before I go see the boys. The mental and emotional anguish is killing me,” she added.

Lobaton said she cries in the middle of her meetings and has difficulty sleeping because of her longing to see her sons.

“I am so helpless now and I am only depending on prayers to strengthen me to face all these emotional and psychological torture," she added.

Lobaton said she remained hopeful that she and Pimentel will be able to settle the issue on joint custody so her sons would not be traumatized. But she warned Pimentel not to underestimate a mother's love for her sons.

Lobaton said she will continue to press forcustody of her two sons.

“I feel I have been deprived of my children and I know this is not healthy for our two boys as they are not experiencing my love and attention also,” she added.

“I hope and pray that his (Koko's) heart will soften and (he will) think of what is best for the children,” Lobaton said.*CPGomez

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