MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/3 August) – It was a good and humble gesture but Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri should not stop at stepping down.
For Fr. Danilo Paciente, head of the Diocese of Malaybalay’s Social Action Center, Zubiri should also help clean the electoral process and help in the reformation process by exposing anomalous acts by groups or persons.
Paciente, in a series of text messages to MindaNews, said if Zubiri did not have a mandate because of the alleged cheating during the 2007 elections, then there was no need for him to resign.
Many Bukidnon officials and residents backed the senator’s move.
“His resignation has the semblance of a very true statesman. He chose honor than position… I have no regrets of idolizing him,” Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan said.
Board member Nemesio Beltran Jr., a lawyer, said that now that Zubiri has resigned, the electoral protest process should be allowed to take its course so that the truth will come out and the rule of law will prevail.
Another board member, Jay Albarece, who was an active labor lawyer, said Zubiri did the most honorable thing given the circumstances. “He earned the admiration of many by giving up his seat,” he added.
The provincial board’s regular Wednesday session was moved for Thursday upon the request of Vice Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr., who joined his son as the latter delivered his privilege speech at the Senate.
Former Bukidnon Gov. Ernesto Tabios said what Zubiri did showed his good manners. “That was kind of Sen. Zubiri to resign before the SET (Senate Electoral Tribunal) may announce their decision,” he said.
“His resignation is the Senate’s and the nation’s loss. I will vote for him next time. He is not power hungry like many politicians,” said lawyer Agustin Nazareno of the Ateneo de Davao University law school.
Russel Aquino, of the Provincial Office for Indigenous Affairs, said the resignation was a good historical and moral lesson for Filipinos, showing them the need for delicadeza and to look at national interest. He added that he appreciated Zubiri’s move but considered it as a loss for Bukidnon and Mindanao.
Juanito Aroa, former president of the Mindanao Association of Water Districts, said Zubiri’s move gave life and meaning to the time-honored Japanese doctrine that values honor above life.
Dr. Conrado Duque Sr., retired Central Mindanao University professor, said he was sorry hearing Zubiri’s resignation, but added that there seems to have truth in the accusation that there was “manipulation of elections in Maguindanao.”
“It was a dignified and honorable decision to resign, though a big loss for the people of Bukidnon and the entire country,” according to Dante Victoria, an official of the Bukidnon State University.
Bukidnon provincial legal officer Jeffrey Sayson said it was a loss and a noble act, “something we Bukidnons could be proud of.”
“It was an honorable exit. I admire his humility in stepping down from his position,” said Lora E. Anar, a teacher at the Bukidnon State University Elementary School Laboratory.
“It’s very rare for an elected official to resign. Sayang (Such a waste). He was one of the most visible, effective, and active senators,” said Reuel B. Gallo, a businessman and president of the Bukidnon chapter of the University of the Philippines Alumni Association.
“He made history! There is no rebuttal on that. Somehow he was able to gain some points for his re-bid for the senate come 2013,” said Francisco Mabaso Jr., of the People Power Volunteers for Reform. But he noted that Zubiri resigned when the election protest against him is about to be completed with the coming out of witnesses.
“It is a bold move no one has ever done in the history of Philippine politics, I believe,” Malaybalay Bishop Jose Cabantan said via text message.
But some critics posed questions on Zubiri’s resignation.
“Is it going to give him more votes in the next national elections?” a teacher who asked not to be quoted said.
“Does it challenge the country’s political system for overhauling, particularly the electoral system? I don’t know where it will lead us,” said Fr. Diosdado Tabios, who ran opposite Gov. Calingasan, who was supported by the Zubiris in the 2010 elections.
Elsewhere, Zubiri’s resignation likewise elicited various reactions.
“Despite his protestation of innocence, he knew, as the Filipino people a long time ago knew, that he was a beneficiary of the GMA-hatched scheme to rig the 2007 elections that made him the ‘Senator from Maguindanao’,” said lawyer Carlos Isagani Zarate, secretary-general of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao, referring to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s alleged attempts at rigging the elections in Maguindanao.
“Kung hindi pa nabaliktad ang mundo (Had the world not turned upside down), he will probably stick out. Thanks, but no thanks, Miguel,” Zarate added.
Pat Sarenas, chair of the Mindanao Coalition of Development NGOs (Mincode), said: “At least we can now teach our children that lying is stealing. And it is evil.”
Salic Ibrahim, chair of the Reform the ARMM Now (RAN), said it was a “nice move to kick off the electoral reform in the ARMM.”
Guiamel Alim, of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society Organization (CBCS), said Zubiri “is worth emulating.”
“Stunned! I have great admiration for Sen. Migs. And he proves that there is decency in a gentleman in that chamber. Saludo ako kay Migs!” said peace advocate Fr. Jun Mercado, OMI. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)