Quantcast
Latest Stories

Redemption or rejection for Zubiri, all out to try again

By

CLEAR CONSCIENCE Zubiri counts his “selfless act” as his “proudest moment” in 2011. Family comes first. EDWIN BACASMAS

Redemption or rejection?

Whether former Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri admits it or not, the outcome of the May 13 senatorial elections might prove crucial to his political survival.

A win would give him a fresh mandate, essentially closing that bitter chapter of his political career 18 months ago when fresh evidence of cheating surfaced and forced him to quit the Senate. A loss could validate an accusation by Zubiri’s nemesis, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, that he’s a cheat.

But Zubiri, 43, who is running with the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), rejects the allegation. Winning, he said, would mean voters appreciate his track record and trust him to deliver on his promises. Defeat would simply mean that they trust other senatorial candidates more.

Whatever the case, he said he was campaigning with a clear conscience and wouldn’t lose sleep over a defeat.

“Win or lose, me and my wife, we’re gonna make baby No. 3,” he said, turning to his wife, Audrey, who was seated beside him during a visit at the Inquirer.

“I have a very young family. For me, politics is not an and/or game … It’s just a job that I have to do well. It’s not my life or the reason why I live.”

For someone who insists that family comes first, values like honesty and integrity count most, especially if the accusation is grave: The man of the house had allegedly cheated, depriving another man his due and quitting only when getting caught was inevitable.

Call him ‘gay,’ never a cheat

Such apparently is the narrative that plays out in Pimentel’s own Senate campaign in the administration ticket. Zubiri said his colleague was targeting “sympathy votes.” So bitter is Pimentel over the cheating episode that he quit UNA and jumped over to the other side. He said he couldn’t bear sharing the stage with Zubiri during the campaign.

Pimentel once told the Inquirer that Zubiri shouldn’t be referred to as a former “senator.” He never was in Pimentel’s book. Period.

Zubiri said he had no problem with that. Call him a former representative instead and that would be cool. Call him “gay” even, a rumor that purportedly began after he broke up with singer-actress Vina Morales. But never label him a cheat.

“That’s worse than below the belt,” he said. “It destroys your integrity and dignity as a person. That’s completely false, and people who know me know I’m a decent person.”

Against the advice of family friends and political allies, he said he decided to step down in August 2011 out of delicadeza (propriety). He knew, too, that if he stayed a minute longer, the allegation would hound him in the senatorial race two years later.

Proudest moment

That “selfless” act, as Zubiri calls it, allowed Pimentel to serve less than two years of what should have been a six-year term. Pimentel sees it the other way: He was deprived of his four years in the Senate.

Zubiri claims both he and Pimentel were victims of massive cheating in Maguindanao during the 2007 senatorial election.

“It’s what I did to rectify the situation, and I think that should be the main point of the discussion,” he argued. “That was the most difficult political decision I have made in my life, but that was also the proudest moment in my life.”

No sitting politician in recent memory had ever done what he did. The natural option was to hold onto the post and wait till the poll protest dragged on until the next election and became moot.

Zubiri makes sure voters are reminded of this each time he climbs the campaign stage. Here was a man who said he didn’t “want to go to Church having to bow my head and be embarrassed to look into people’s eyes.”

By doing the unexpected in 2011, Zubiri feels he has kept his values intact.

“The legitimacy question is a very heavy accusation,” he said. “All the good work that you’ve done, all the records that show I passed so many laws, that I had a perfect attendance, that I helped so many people, that I had almost a thousand projects—all that is completely erased with one cloud of doubt in one’s mind that you shouldn’t be there in the first place.”

Zubiri downplayed the impact of the 2007 poll fraud issue in the current campaign, even if both he and Pimentel continue to raise the matter, albeit from two entirely different perspectives.

‘Let me try again’

The theme of Zubiri’s campaign is “second chances.” His campaign jingle is “Migz Mo,” taken from 6 Cyclemind’s “Trip.” But he occasionally sings Frank Sinatra’s “Let Me Try Again” during sorties after explaining his version of the election fraud story.

Between Pimentel and Zubiri, the latter seems visibly more at peace with the outcome of the election protest between them. While Pimentel is often combative and aggressive, Zubiri is more calm and reconciliatory, perhaps because he is seen as the one who had done the other person wrong.

Peace of mind is also a function of faith for Zubiri, a Marian devotee. “Insha’Allah” (God willing), he said he’d get a second tour of duty at the Senate. His prayer comes with the promise that “I’ll be a better public servant than I was before.”

But Divine Providence is not to be abandoned by actual work.

Socialized health program

“I’m banking on my track record and my platform of government to help me win this campaign,” said Zubiri, who boasts of having registered a perfect attendance since joining the House of Representatives in 1998 and later the Senate.

Zubiri promises to push for a nationwide “socialized health program,” where the poor would not have to worry about hospital bills and medicine. He claims to have done it in his home province of Bukidnon, and is confident it could be replicated around the country.


Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter


Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Elections , Juan Miguel Zubiri , Philippines , Politics




Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
Advertisement
  1. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  2. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. Massive infra spending set
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  7. Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  8. South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  9. Two Popes who would be saints
  10. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  4. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  5. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  6. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  7. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  8. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  9. Massive infra spending set
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  4. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  5. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  6. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  7. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  8. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Hammer-wielding robbers cause chaos at Philippines’ Mall of Asia
Advertisement

News

  • Pakistan library named ‘bin Laden,’ as memory fades
  • US teacher fired over comment on black president
  • Magnitude-7.5 earthquake shakes Mexican capital
  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • Filipinos, Dutch re-enact crucifixion of Christ
  • Sports

  • Nadal ousted by Ferrer in Monte Carlo quarters
  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Myx TV premieres Asian American ‘docu-series’
  • A nutty finale for ‘Scandal,’ TV’s craziest show
  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Business

  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Las Vegas ‘Pinoy Pride’ fest hails Filipino heritage
  • Marking Jesus’ journey on Good Friday
  • Filipina accomplice arrested for fake bills in Malaysia
  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Marketplace
    Advertisement