ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/14 May) – Senator Aquilino Pimentel III is opposing the entry of Bukidnon politician Juan Miguel Zubiri into the Senate slate of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) for the 2013 mid-term elections.
Pimentel, Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) president, has described Zubiri as a “thorn” in the UNA political coalition during a press conference here Sunday night.
Pimentel’s declaration came after Zubiri’s statement that there was no stopping him from joining the (UNA) and most likely its 2013 senatorial slate.
UNA is a newly-formed political coalition of PDP-Laban headed by Vice President Jejomar Binay as its chairman and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) headed by former President Joseph Estrada.
Pimentel said that as a matter of principle Zubiri should not be accommodated into the political coalition.
“He (Zubiri) stays with Lakas and run. Why join the PMP?” Pimentel asked.
The Pimentel-Zubiri squabble started in the 2010 elections where Pimentel protested over Zubiri’s proclamation, the latter having garnered the 12th (and last ) senatorial position, with Pimentel trailing by only less than 20,000 votes. Pimentel cited massive cheating, particularly in Maguindanao under the reign of the Ampatuans, where he lost heavily to Zubiri.
After a protracted electoral protest, both in the Commission on Elections and in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, Zubiri resigned as senator in August 2011, four years after the elections. Pimentel was finally sworn in as senator a few days after, with the SET ruling that he led Zubiri by over 250,000 votes.
Pimentel said he will officially file a complaint before the coalition’s executive committee against the entry of Zubiri into the senatorial slate of UNA.
Pimentel, along with four others – namely, Senator Gregorio Honasan (Independent), Representatives Jackie Enrile (PMP), Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito (PMP) and Jose de Venecia III (PDP-Laban) – are so far among the five candidates for senators announced by UNA.
Pimentel said he would not also leave his party for the sake of accommodating Zubiri by UNA.
“I will stick it out with my party,” he declared. “Let him run with Lakas and you can vote for him,” he added. (MindaNews)