MANILA, Philippines - Leaders of the political coalition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) are hopeful two of its senatorial candidates would be able to settle their diffrences and work together despite being rivals in a bitterly contested election.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) is against being in the same senatorial slate with former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who took his oath on Monday as a member of Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
PDP-Laban and PMP formed UNA for the 2013 elections.
But PMP's chairman, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, believes that "eventually, all these things will heal."
"I'm confident that the two gentlemen are rational and intelligent human beings, and that they could thresh out their differences," he told reporters before Zubiri's oath-taking on Thursday at the Club Filipino.
Zubiri resigned as senator in August 2011 because of allegations that he benefited from electoral fraud in the 2007 polls, the subject of Pimentel's 4-year election protest against him. The Senate Electoral Tribunal then proclaimed Pimentel the real winner in the elections after a vote recount.
'Politics is like war'
Enrile said politicians must not hold grudges for a long time.
"If you are a politician and you maintain grudges, in the end you will be destroyed," he said.
He also compared politics, which he defined as a struggle for power, to war. "When you go to war, you work together to survive."
PMP's president, Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, said the party's leadership will talk to both Zubiri and Pimentel to help them settle their differences.
He said having the two of them in the same senatorial ticket would boost the coalition's chances in 2013 because they both come from Mindanao.
Forgive and forget
Bukidnon Vice Governor Jose Maria Zubiri, the former senator's father, said he wishes Pimentel would forgive his son, reiterating that he did not cheat during the 2007 elections.
"I hope he would forgive and forget about everything," he said.
Pimentel could not be reached for comment as of posting.