Zubiri open to ending word war with Pimentel

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Former Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

PAMPANGA, Philippines—Former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said he was open to ending the word war between him and Senator Aquilino Pimentel III even as he accused the latter anew of domestic violence.

In an interview on the sidelines of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) sortie in Candaba, Pampanga, Zubiri maintained that Pimentel’s wife, his cousin and former beauty queen Jewel Lobaton, told him that she was a battered wife.

“I was not the only one who listened to her story when we were in the homes of Congressman Toby Tiangco and former president Erap. They will confirm it,” he said in Filipino. Erap is former president Joseph Estrada’s nickname.

Zubiri said he would keep silent about the issue as a sign of respect for Lobaton.

“I will respect her decision,” he said. “But I will not deny that she asked me for help.”

Lobaton released a statement on Friday denying that she was a battered wife.

Zubiri said Pimentel was really furious at him because of the issue.
“Gigil na gigil po siya sa akin. Kulang na lang kagatin niya ako, na kung parang aso kinagat na niya ako,” he said.

Asked about the libel case that Pimentel threatened to file, Zubiri said it would be better for the senator not to press charges.
“If he files a libel case then I am forced to divulge all that she has said to us. I will ask all witnesses to come out to corroborate,” he said.

“Ang payo ko sa kanya, huwag na lang (My advice to him is, don’t do it),” Zubiri said.

Their animosity began after Pimentel accused Zubiri of fraud during the 2007 senatorial election.  The Senate Electoral Tribunal later proclaimed Pimentel as the winner.

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