LUCENA CITY—Former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri on Thursday said the allegation of former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. that he bought a slot on the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) senatorial ticket was unfair and baseless.
Zubiri also said he was sad about the continued attacks by Pimentel’s son, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, that he cheated in the 2007 elections.
“That money thing was not true, and it’s baseless,” Zubiri said. “I don’t have money. Never that money matter was involved. As a matter of fact, I only have P1,000 in my pocket today for gasoline.”
But he said that despite the personal attacks against him, he still respected former Senator Pimentel.
Zubiri was here as guest of Quezon Governor David Suarez, a longtime friend, at the launching of the provincial government’s project that aimed to plant two million mangrove propagules in one day.
In an interview over Radyo Inquirer and with Inquirer Bandera Thursday, Zubiri decried Senator Aquilino Pimentel III’s verbal attacks as “pure harassment.”
“He can get fake ballots anywhere but he has no corroborative evidence at all,” said Zubiri, who resigned from the Senate last year when it became apparent that he would lose the recount of the 2007 senatorial votes to Pimentel.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) proclaimed Pimentel the real winner of the 12th Senate seat after Zubiri’s resignation.
“This is sad,” Zubiri said, “There are many issues to tackle, and we are stuck with allegations of cheating that happened years ago.”
Zubiri is running again for the Senate in next year’s midterm elections. Pimentel is running for reelection. The UNA, led by Vice President Jejomar Binay, has invited both to run as its senatorial candidates.
But Pimentel has refused to join the UNA, saying he could not stand on a campaign stage with a “cheater.”
In the interview on Radyo Inquirer, Zubiri said he was dismayed that people continued to associate him with the Arroyo administration.
“I hope the public will look at my performance as a senator and as a congressman,” he said.
In Lucena, Zubiri defended the UNA leadership from the accusation of Pimentel’s father.
“It (the money matter) was all untrue” Zubiri said. “No one can say that to Vice President Jejomar Binay, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Joseph Estrada. They are all respected figures. The statement was unfair to them.”