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Zubiri expected to announce resignation from Senate

MANILA, Philippines—Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri was expected to announce his resignation in a privilege speech Wednesday afternoon, days after an election official came out from hiding to claim that election results in 2007 had been rigged in favor of senatorial candidates of ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, including Zubiri.

A source privy to the senator’s decision to announce his resignation said key members of the family met until 2 a.m. Wednesday on Zubiri’s resignation.

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“It was meant to spare the Senate as an institution from the damage being brought by accusations of fraud (against Zubiri),” said the source in a phone conversation with Inquirer.

The decision to resign, however, should not be taken as an admission of complicity in alleged irregularities that took place in 2007, according to the source, a close friend of the Zubiri family.

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Zubiri is battling through a protest case filed by lawyer Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III who accused Zubiri of benefiting from fraud in Maguindanao in the 2007 elections.

Zubiri has repeatedly denied the accusation, filing a petition at the Senate Electoral Tribunal claiming that he, too, was cheated in other parts of the country.

Lintang Bedol, election supervisor in Maguindanao who had been a fugitive and accused of playing a key role in fraud in the 2007 elections, recently surfaced in a TV interview to say the results of the 2007 elections were rigged.

Bedol is now in custody of the Commission on Elections to serve a six-month jail term for contempt after he went into hiding amid a Comelec investigation of alleged fraud in the 2007 elections.

Earlier Wednesday, Bukidnon Vice Governor Jose Zubiri told the Inquirer his son had invited the whole family to be present at the Senate later in the afternoon to listen to a privilege speech in which he was to make an important announcement.

The elder Zubiri, however, declined to confirm rumors that his son would resign his Senate post amid fresh allegations of cheating in favor of him and other candidates of former President Arroyo in the 2007 elections.

“I know my son; he’s a good man. I think he has listened to me more than anybody else,” Governor Zubiri told the Inquirer. “But let’s leave it to him, let’s not preempt what he will say this afternoon.”

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The elder Zubiri said the senator and his family and lawyers have been discussing the matter for the past three weeks. He said Senator Zubiri had also been in discussion with senators.

On Tuesday night, the senator told him: “Just bring the whole family to the Senate and listen to what I have to say.”

Governor Zubiri said his wife, two other sons and the senator’s family will all be there to listen to his privilege speech.

Governor Zubiri lamented the cloud of doubt about his son’s senatorial win, saying “We are not cheaters. Bukidnon has never been included in the areas where there was alleged cheating because I will never, never allow it.”

Zubiri’s term ends in 2013.

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TAGS: 2004 Senatorial Elections, Aquilino Pimentel III, Comelec, Commission on Elections, election fraud, Juan Miguel Zubiri, News, Politics, Senate
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