|Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri salutes his colleagues in the Philippine Senate following his resignation. Photo by Junny Roy for abs-cbnNEWS.com
Urges Senate Electoral Tribunal to rule immediately on protests
Enrile says he'll study Zubiri's resignation and then decide
MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri resigned from the Senate on Wednesday following accusations of fraud in the 2007 elections, but insisted the allegations were "unfounded."
In his privilege speech, Zubiri said: “I am resigning because of these unfounded accusations against me, and this issue has systematically divided our nation and has cast doubts in our electoral system which have affected not only myself, this institution but the public as well.”
He denied that he cheated in order to win a seat in the 2007 senatorial race.
Zubiri's mother, wife, other family members and close friends attended this afternoon’s session.
Zubiri narrated his accomplishments as a legislator and said recent allegations, which have also affected his family, are already hampering his work. He said it would be an injustice if his full concentration would not be devoted to his job.
Senator Zubiri gives his wife, Audrey, a buzz shortly after resigning.
Photo by Roy Dorendo for abs-cbnNEWS.com
“Lubha na akong nasaktan, kasama ang sakit at hapding nadarama ng aking pamilya. At dahil dito, ang aking tungkulin bilang isang Senador ay lubha nang nadaramay at para bang nawawalang saysay,” he said.
Without naming his rival Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III, Zubiri said: “My rival took advantage of this political situation. He and his supporters are now asking for my resignation as a duly elected Senator, despite the pendency of his election protest at the Senate Electoral Tribunal. My political detractors began calling me ugly names and dragging the name of my family in entirety.”
Senate Electoral Tribunal
Zubiri said he has already directed his lawyers to make a proper manifestation before the Senate Electoral Tribunal “with the end in view of expediting the proceedings and with the prayer that the Tribunal come up with a decision at the soonest possible time.”
“Handa ko pong tanggapin ang anumang hatol mula sa nasabing hukuman," he said.
Zubiri also said he has not benefited from having held his post in the past 4 years. “No amount of power, position or wealth is worth sacrificing one's honor and integrity.”
Zubiri also warned his detractors, "As I paraphrase a quote from General Douglas Macarthur that: I am not actually retreating; I am merely advancing in another direction."
Pimentel III filed an election protest after Zubiri snatched the 12th and last senatorial post in 2007.
Pimentel's protest is still pending before the Senate Electoral Tribunal. Zubiri also filed a counter-protest.
New witnesses, including suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan and former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol, recently came out saying they were instructed by Malacañang to pad votes for Zubiri in 2007.
Ampatuan, an accused in the Maguindanao massacre case, also revealed he was ordered to cut the votes for opposition bets Panfilo Lacson, Noynoy Aquino, and Alan Peter Cayetano
Zubiri, who ran under the administration ticket, won the post by a slim margin of around 21,000 votes over Pimentel, who ran under the opposition.
Enrile to Zubiri: You will be back
Immediately after his speech, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile took the stand and commended Zubiri for what he called was a great show of moral courage.
Enrile said, “never had I thought that I would witness today a show of moral courage…Many people in this life possess physical courage, but rarely did I see a man stand up to what he believes in.”
Enrile, the most senior member of the upper chamber, said he thought it was the first time a senator has resigned under such circumstances.
He said he has yet to “study” Zubiri’s resignation before he comes out with a decision. He also said Zubiri, whom he considers as one of the most articulate, promising and gifted member, would be coming back soon.