Aquilino Pimentel slams UNA’s ‘dinosaurian politics’By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The escalating word war between Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and unseated senator Juan Miguel Zubiri has drawn the father of the incumbent senator into the fray.
Breaking his silence, former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. issued a scathing denunciation of the leaders of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
“Let those denizens of the darkened recesses of dinosaurian politics revel in their foolhardy decision,” the elder Pimentel told the Inquirer when asked about the squabble between his son and Zubiri over the latter’s inclusion on UNA’s 2013 senatorial slate.
The elder Pimentel did not name names, but it was clear he was alluding to UNA senior leaders Vice President Jejomar Binay, former President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, the of.
Pimentel Sr. crossed swords with Enrile and Estrada on several occasions in the past because of political differences since the Cory Aquino presidency.
The former senator has earned the moniker, “the quintessential opposition leader,” owing to his having been Senate minority leader for most of the 13th and 14th Congresses coinciding with the Arroyo administration.
In a separate statement, Pimentel Sr. castigated Zubiri and UNA spokesperson JV Bautista for the decision to field Zubiri as one of UNA’s senatorial candidates in the elections of 2013.
Quoting Bautista, the former senator observed that the decision behind Zubiri’s inclusion on the UNA ticket was “the fact that UNA’s focus is to win in 2013.”
“Good focus but for the fact that UNA seems eager to sacrifice principles for practical partisan gains. And in the process, it also posits half-truths as facts. It is not correct for UNA to say that all the election cheats are in jail. Not so. Some of them are under detention now. But not all,” said the elder Pimentel.
He added: “Others, in fact, want to get back to positions of political power to help them evade the penal sanctions that should be theirs because of their involvement in or, worse, their having benefited from the massive manipulation of the 2007 electoral process while feigning ignorance of the same.”
Turning to Zubiri, Pimentel Sr. said: “I concede that Migs Zubiri—who UNA prefers over Koko—has one advantage over the latter. And that is simply m-o-n-e-y. That was the reason why in my first statement criticizing the UNA decision (I) mentioned money—and implicitly the love for it by some UNA people—as the main cause of the instant controversy.”
The elder Pimentel described as “probably one of the most uncivil, if not savage” the “treatment ever accorded by so-called political allies to one of their peers in recent times.”
He also expressed amazement that UNA, through its spokesperson, predicted that his son might join the ruling Liberal Party.
“But he ignores the present dire implications of the questioned UNA decision where money trounces principles in the here and now, and the unconscionable message that it sends that it is all right for UNA to have cheats join the cheated in its political slate,” he said.
The younger Pimentel, the PDP-Laban president, has been keeping his political cards so close to his chest that even those wooing him were finding it hard to second-guess his next move.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, who admitted that he was negotiating “unofficially” with the younger Pimentel for his transfer to LP, told the Inquirer that he, too, was having a hard time talking with him.
“I have discussed the matter with him a few times unofficially and have shared what we discussed with a few other leaders of the party,” said Pangilinan, an LP stalwart. “Nothing was finalized and my impression was that he wanted to keep his options open, and I respect this.”
At the height of impeachment trial of then Chief Justice Renato Corona, Senator Pimentel was reported to have approached several senators, asking how he could be adopted as guest candidate of both the administration coalition and the UNA.
This fueled the suspicion among his colleagues that he wanted to be a common candidate of both coalitions, and thus he was setting the stage for his adoption by LP without having to leave his party.
“He needs to be careful because one who tries to please everyone will please no one,” said a senator, who asked not to be identified by name.
Sought for comment, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad confirmed that the LP was reserving a slot for Senator Pimentel, but the latter was still undecided.
“We are awaiting the result of consultation of Koko with relatives, friends and PDP allies,” said Abad.