MANILA, Philippines – Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said on Saturday that he is looking forward to a meeting with Vice President Jejomar Binay following his decision to leave the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) coalition.
Pimentel said he has yet to discuss with Binay the implications of his departure from UNA.
“I’ve been wanting to meet with him but he has been so busy and lately he has been out of the country. For sure, when he comes back,” Pimentel told ANC’s “Top Story.”
“My relationship with the vice president has not changed, he is still my party-mate. We have to discuss now what is the implication [of my departure] on the coalition,” he added.
Binay is currently in Saudi Arabia and will return to the Philippines on July 7.
Binay earlier said he is “saddened” by Pimentel’s departure but he respects the senator’s decision.
Pimentel announced his decision not to run under UNA after a meeting with former President Joseph Estrada of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) last Thursday.
UNA is a coalition between Binay’s Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) and Estrada's PMP.
Pimentel said he left UNA after the coalition decided to take in former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, despite his calls not include Zubiri in the lineup.
“I asked them not to include him but they included him. Now I said I cannot live with that set up so I’ve already said my goodbyes,” said Pimentel.
Pimentel, however, noted that he is not “party-less.”
“I did not leave my party, I left a coalition of political parties but I did not leave my mother party, that’s PDP-Laban. I am not party-less,” he said.
The senator said that although he is no longer part of UNA, he still supports the coalition between his party and PMP.
“I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize or weaken the coalition between PDP-Laban and PMP. That is not my goal. My goal was to say no to the nomination from UNA and inhibit myself from UNA matters because I don’t belong anymore to the coalition,” he said.
Pimentel earlier said he cannot run in the same ticket as Zubiri, who he believes benefitted from alleged poll fraud in Mindanao.
Zubiri won in the 2007 senatorial race but resigned in 2011 to give way to Pimentel.
Pimentel, who is the chair of the Senate's committee on electoral reforms, said he will ask more questions during the hearing and demonstration of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines as preparations for the 2013 elections continue.
The senator said he is “not really” satisfied with the changes that have been made by Smartmatic, the automated election system provider.
“We have to double check what the contribution of the changes will be to the integrity of the system. For example, one change pointed out to me by Smartmatic is in the printed election returns, they will now print the hash value of the software running in the machine. But that is only a print out so I have to double check with IT experts whether this will help because the printer can also be instructed to print a certain number but it is not the real number. These are technical matters which I need to refer to IT experts,” he said.
Pimentel believes that the automated system in the polls will only reduce election fraud and not eliminate it.
“Even if the machine counts accurately, the next question is were the results from the machines consolidated accurately? I started with the machine because it is what the voters see. The machine itself is the representation of the automated system. We are far from over,” he said.