MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/5 April) – Two Mindanao politicians who figured in an abrasive contest for the 12th seat in the 2007 senatorial elections that went all the way to the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) may find themselves in the same coalition ticket next year.
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, interviewed Wednesday night on ANC’s “Road to 2013” hosted by Lynda Jumilla, said his rival Juan Miguel Zubiri has been named by Vice President Jejomar Binay as one of the possible candidates of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Binay has agreed to team up with Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) of former President Joseph Estrada for the 2013 election, and the coalition is called the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Pimentel said.
The senator said he was opposed to Binay’s idea to include Zubiri in the UNA senatorial ticket, and that he has made his stand known to the Vice President.
“I will just give him a frown,” he said, adding, “this will become a heated topic within the coalition.”
Pimentel said he would like to think that Binay feels that he has nothing against Zubiri.
“This is politics, why should you have permanent enemies,” he said. “That is probably how he (Binay) thinks.”
Pimentel made it clear that he does not want to campaign with Zubiri if Binay decides to include his rival in the UNA ticket, although he said that he wants Binay’s endorsement.
“If he endorses me, thank you very much,” he said.
Pimentel said the number of potential candidates under the Binay umbrella was already overflowing, “meaning it has more than 12 names on the list.”
Some of them are Cagayan Rep. Juan Ponce Enrile Jr., son of the Senate president, and re-electionist senators Francis Escudero, Gregorio Honasan, Loren Legarda and Alan Peter Cayetano.
Pimentel said Binay had proposed a coalition with the Liberal Party, the administration party, but the move did not prosper.
It was only after the talks with the administration camp failed that the Vice President approached other parties [for a coalition in 2013], the senator clarified.
Zubiri resigned from the Senate in August last year, shortly before the SET came out with its findings on the electoral protest of Pimentel against him.
With less than two years left in his term, the SET eventually declared Pimentel as the official 12th senator in the 2007 elections.
Pimentel mainly based his protest on the reported tampering of election results in Maguindanao province, which was then ruled by the powerful Ampatuan family allied with then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Results in the province showed a 12-0 sweep in favor of Arroyo’s candidates with Zubiri landing on the top spot.
Zubiri had maintained having taken no part in the alleged cheating. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno / MindaNews)