BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — “I regret having brought out this issue in public.”
Former senator Juan Miguel Zubiri on Sunday apologized to Jewel May Lobaton, the estranged wife for Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, for stating on national television that she was a battered wife.
In a press conference, he apologized to Lobaton for “the pain that I have caused for bringing the issue out in the public during a heated exchange on a televised senatorial debate last week.”
He clarified that he did not state that Lobaton was hurt physically by Pimentel but that being a battered wife could also be caused by psychological, mental and verbal abuse.
“I uttered those words at the heat of the moment and even before the campaign started Senator Pimentel has been besmirching my reputation,” he said.
“I merely quoted her statement that she was a battered wife,” he added.
He said that he respects Lobaton’s denial and that the statement would be the last he would say on the issue.
He recalled receiving a call from a mutual friend last year who asked that he meet with Lobaton.
Zubiri said he was hesitant but pushed through with a meeting with Lobaton and even had his wife tag along so that it would not look political.
Although they mulled making the reason of the separation public, the result of the meeting and consultations with their family was to quietly help Lobaton gain custody of her children.
Eventually, Zubiri said that he and his wife distanced themselves from the custody battle due to fears of their help being seen as politically-motivated.
“It is regretful for the other party to say that we are using this for political means because we have kept this issue a secret even between our friends and family all this time,” he said.
He said that he was sorry he ever made the issue public but said that he had been “pushed to the wall so many times by Senator Pimentel and sometimes, enough is enough.”
“If the good senator is worried about what his children see or hear from the public then I want him to know that I too have children who also hear and see all the lies that he has been throwing against me,” said Zubiri.