Zubiri rues Koko's departure from UNA

Posted at 06/28/12 9:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Former Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri on Thursday said he felt sad over the decision of his rival, Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel to leave the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).

Zubiri, in a press statement, described Pimentel's decision as "a sad day for the people of the Visayas and Mindanao whose leaders have been clamoring for unity amongst us both to have more representation for the region."

He said he wanted to mend his differences with Pimentel, with the 2 of them running for senator in the 2013 mid-term elections.

"I don't believe our differences were irreconcilable as I share Koko's fight against electoral fraud. Remember that we are both victims here, as he was not able to start his term and that I was not able to finish mine," he said.

Zubiri stepped down as a senator and was replaced by Pimentel following allegations of electoral fraud in the last elections that allegedly benefited allies of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"I had decided to make the ultimate sacrifice of resigning from a Senate post even long before our case in the Senate Electoral Tribunal would have been decided upon. I did this out of delicadeza, out of the love for my family and the institution that I represented which was the Senate and to show the Filipino people that I had no participation what so ever in what had transpired during the alleged cheating that had happened in (Maguindanao) province," said Zubiri, who currently out of the country.

"What saddens me is that Koko and I during our reconciliation meeting in one of the major TV stations had agreed to help each other for the sake of the region we represent," he said. "We agreed to supporting each other to finally unite the people from a particularly divisive electoral exercise. This was all played live on national TV and I sincerely believed it and had hoped it prospered for the sake of unity. That is why I'm saddened today with this development."

He said he is "leaving his fate" to the Filipino people and UNA leaders Vice President Jejomar Binay and former President Joseph Estrada.

"I have done no wrong and my records will show that I have served the people to the best of my ability and with no controversy attached to my name. All I want is to seek a fresh mandate in an orderly, honest, peaceful and automated election in 2012 to continue to serve the people that I love. That is not too much to ask," Zubiri added.