Says evidence of fraud is everywhere
MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATED) The closest rival of resigned Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Atty. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, has expressed dismay over Zubiri’s claims that the 2007 poll fraud allegations are “unfounded.”
“I am quite disappointed that he labeled the poll fraud charges as baseless, the evidence is everywhere. The ballots are all fake from Maguindanao. We have Zaldy Ampatuan giving us a recorded statement on how [the cheating] was done. We have Lintang Bedol, who executed an affidavit. We have 3 municipal election supervisors also executing affidavits. These are not baseless or ‘unfounded’ election fraud charges. These are real. The sooner that he accepts this fact, the better also for him, for his peace of mind,” Pimentel told ANC immediately after Zubiri announced his resignation from the Senate.
Pimentel noted that Zubiri’s resignation, although significant, must be based on the right reasons.
“It’s a rare act. But I was hoping he was doing it based on the right reasons,” he said.
Pimentel said Zubiri shouldn’t have accepted the post in the first place.
“Mabuti na rin ngayon na nag-resign na siya, pero sana, in the first place way back in 2007, kaduda-duda na ‘yung resulta sa Maguindanao e. He should have rejected the magical results coming from Maguindanao. That should have saved his honor from the very start,” he said.
Pimentel’s wife, Jewel, also expressed her frustration.
“Gusto kong umiyak, actually. We’ve been through this for the whole 4 years and it was not easy. It has been a lonely battle at nasaktan din kami. ‘Yung sinasabi ni Migz na nasaktan siya, we are more hurt, actually,” she said.
Now that Zubiri has resigned, Pimentel said the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) should proclaim a new senator to take his place.
“Now that he has resigned, it means he is no longer contesting the position. That makes his counter-protest moot and academic,” he said.
“The SET should proclaim who the real winner is,” Pimentel added.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he has yet to decide on Zubiri’s resignation.
However, Pimentel believes that Zubiri’s resignation should be effective immediately.
“A nationally-elected leader resigns directly to the people, not to his colleagues, not to the leader of the chamber,” Pimentel said.
Zubiri resigned from Senate on Wednesday following new allegations of fraud in the May 2007 senatorial elections.
Pimentel contested the results of the election and claimed he was cheated in Maguindanao province.
His electoral protest against Zubiri has been pending at the SET for four years now.
The process has already cost Pimentel P10 million.
Zubiri filed a counter-protest which is also pending.
Zubiri won by a slim margin of 21,000 votes. -- With a report from Karen Davila, ABS-CBN News