MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is not joining the Liberal Party just yet, even if he's hurting over the inclusion of 2007 election rival Juan Miguel Zubiri in the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial slate for 2013.
Pimentel told media on the sidelines of the Independence Day Vin d’honneur at the Palace that his decision on his membership in the slate of UNA will not be because of feelers from the LP.
Pimentel maintained he is still assessing the situation and is looking for a “gem of an idea” on how to solve this.
“[I don’t want to think of the] feelers they’ve been sending. If ever aalis ako sa UNA, it shouldn’t be because there’s a group waiting for me,” he said.
Pimentel said he and UNA leader, Vice President Jejomar Binay, did not discuss politics during the Vin d’honneur.
“Ganiyan kami ka close ni VP, sa haba ng aming pinagsamahan, kahit ano pwede naming pag-usapan.”
When asked if he’s already beyond compromising on Zubiri’s inclusion, Pimentel said: "That's my sentiment. That's what my conscience tells me to stand for, that’s what my inner feelings tell me. That’s why I’m conducting consultations. I’m looking for a gem of an idea."
Pimentel said he is not against Zubiri’s candidacy, only his inclusion in the UNA slate. “With his entry to UNA, ako ang nabulabog. Ako ang nauna sa UNA. Ako nag-announce ng formation ng UNA, pero ako nalalagay saa langanin. May konti akong tampo."
Pimentel said one option he is considering is the split of the PDP from its coalition with Laban. Pimentel is from PDP while Binay is from Laban.
For his part, LP stalwart, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, said they don’t want to get embroiled in the UNA “intramurals,” noting they will wait for Pimentel’s final decision before going further on his inclusion in the LP slate.
"Right now, we don’t want to interfere in the internal affairs of UNA. We certainly will welcome talking to him [but] we don’t want to intervene,” he said.
President Benigno Aquino III earlier said the LP already has 32 applicants for its senatorial slate.