The animosity between reelectionist Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III and former Bukidnon Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri has exploded in only the third week of the senatorial campaign.
Pimentel has taken to singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” with “reimagined” lyrics that warn against electoral fraud, when he takes the stage in provincial sorties.
The song is an apparent dig at Zubiri, who served the first four years of a Senate term that the Senate Electoral Tribunal ruled in 2011 was rightfully Pimentel’s.
Zubiri quickly resigned and Pimentel was able to serve only the last two years of the term. Now he has to run again.
But Pimentel, president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban party, which coalesced with the opposition United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), is running not with the latter but with the administration coalition Team PNoy, in protest of UNA taking in Zubiri as a senatorial candidate.
“I’m just singing, why does he get hurt? I’m not hitting any candidate, why would I be hitting anybody? Why would he be hurt by the lyrics? Really?” Pimentel told reporters in a press conference in Davao City last week.
Zubiri, in turn, sent an e-mail to the media where he wondered, “Why I am always on [Pimentel’s] mind every day of the campaign. Why is it that I am his favorite topic in his speeches and conversations? Isn’t [it] because he has no achievements in the Senate to show except to pick on me?”
In at least two stops in Mindanao last week, Pimentel’s baritone rang out with Lennon’s famous song reworked this way: “Imagine there’s no cheating, it isn’t hard to do. No cheating in elections, no dagdag-bawas too. Imagine all our leaders… elected honestly…”
The verbal jousting began heating up last week after Pimentel shot down Zubiri’s proposal for a free universal health care system.
Pimentel’s office also sent reporters an e-mail saying that Zubiri, during his four years as a senator, did nothing to solve the power problem in Mindanao.
Zubiri, for his part, challenged Pimentel to “show the people what he had done since entering the Senate” in August 2011.
“Sorry to disappoint the honorable (Pimentel), but for his enlightenment and information, I had taken steps [from] the time I was a congressman from Bukidnon to help ease the power crisis in Mindanao,” said Zubiri.
“Likewise, I authored Republic Act No. 9513 or the Renewable Energy Act which provides for the entry of renewable energy projects not only to Mindanao but in the whole country,” he said.
Zubiri noted that as a result of his efforts, the Cepalco power plant in Pimentel’s hometown, Cagayan de Oro City, “has in the pipeline an additional 20 megawatt increase in solar power capacity. I also filed a resolution in the Senate calling for an inquiry into the impending power crisis in Mindanao.”