MANAOAG, Pangasinan—Reelectionist Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III is considering filing libel charges against former Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who said in a forum that Pimentel’s estranged wife, Jewel, once told him and his wife Audrey that she was a battered spouse.
“My lawyers are studying possible libel. We will discuss a draft complaint,” Pimentel said, adding that some issues were off-limits even in a political campaign.
Pimentel said Zubiri’s claim was personal in nature and was a lie. “If you invented a personal attack, that’s like a double technical foul. You’re out of the game,” he said.
Jewel May Lobaton-Pimentel, in a statement, appealed to Zubiri to “keep my marital issues out of the campaign for a Senate seat in this election.”
“I categorically state that I have never claimed nor complained to Migz Zubiri that I was a battered wife. In the close to 12 years that we lived together, my husband Koko Pimentel has never ever physically hurt me,” Lobaton-Pimentel said.
“My marital issues are not national issues. And my children have been greatly affected. Please spare my two sons, as they are mere children aged 8 and 3 respectively,” she added.
Pimentel and Lobaton, former Bb. Pilipinas-Universe first runnerup and Miss MassKara Queen 1993, have been living apart since November 2011.
Lobaton, in an interview in Bacolod City, said she and Pimentel remained very good friends.
She added that she was even campaigning for Pimentel’s reelection bid. “I believe he can do a lot of good things for this country, and that he will make it in this election,” she said.
Pimentel is seeking reelection with Team PNoy while Zubiri is in the senatorial lineup of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA).
Both were guests on the TV program “Mano Mano ni Anthony Taberna” on Studio 23 on Sunday. Toward the end of the debate, Zubiri alleged that Lobaton told him that she had been abused by her husband.
Lobaton said that in June 2012, she sought the advice of a friend on how to get her children back from Pimentel.
“This person called his friend, Migz Zubiri, who is also my relative, if he could help me,” she said.
A meeting was arranged in July 2012 in Makati to discuss custody of the children. Among those at the meeting were Zubiri and his wife, Audrey.
“As we were discussing it, I was crying because, as a mother at that time, I was greatly affected and feeling hopeless. Being a physically battered wife therefore was not being talked about. Strategies were discussed on how to get the children from Koko,” she said.
“When the meeting ended, Migz and Audrey assured me of their support and prayers,” she said.