MANILA, Philippines - There was no animosity when Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel met with former President Joseph Estrada on Thursday to bid adieu to the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
In an interview with radio dzMM, Estrada said he is disappointed that Pimentel decided not to stay with UNA but “I respect his decision.”
He said he remains proud of Pimentel. “Sabi ko sa aking inaanak, at ipinagmamalaki kong inaanak ko sya, nakakapanghinayang at malaking bagay na nawala sya sa UNA dahil magaling syang senador at Bar topnotcher.”
He said he made an effort to keep Pimentel but the latter insisted he cannot work alongside his rival, former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.
Pimentel told reporters Thursday afternoon he will run in the 2013 elections without the help of UNA, the coalition that his party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban formed with Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP).
Pimentel believes Zubiri benefited from the alleged fraud in 2007. Zubiri eventually resigned from the Senate in 2011 to give way to Pimentel.
Until now, Estrada vouches for Zubiri's innocence.
He said he had Zubiri’s supposed involvement in the electoral fraud investigated but found none.
He also said he asked for the blessing of UNA’s leaders before he accepted Zubiri into the PMP fold.
Asked for his advise for Pimentel who may now be adopted by the administration Liberal Party, Estrada said: “He does not need my unsolicited advise, I respect his decision.”
He said Pimentel did not mention his plans when they met. “He said he’s going to be an independent PDP-Laban.”