WHAT WENT BEFORE: Binay, Pimentel sever ties
The political and personal ties between Vice President Jejomar Binay and former Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. spanned over three decades, starting when they were members of the Movement of Attorneys for Brotherhood and Integrity Inc. (Mabini), a group of human rights lawyers founded in 1980 to fight the dictatorship of then President Ferdinand Marcos.
Days after Marcos was toppled from power in the Edsa People Power Revolution in 1986, then President Corazon Aquino appointed Binay officer in charge and later acting mayor of the then town of Makati through Pimentel, who was then the local government secretary.
Binay and Pimentel were also members of the PDP-Laban, a merger between two political parties—the Partido ng Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP) and Lakas ng Bayan (Laban), established in the late 1970s by the then imprisoned Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
But the cracks began to show when the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), a coalition of Binay’s PDP-Laban and Joseph Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, put former Bukidnon Rep. Miguel Zubiri on its 2013 senatorial slate.
Nene’s son, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, had accused Zubiri of robbing him of a Senate seat in the fraud-marred 2007 senatorial election.
In November 2011, the Commission on Elections and the Department of Justice charged former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and former Comelec election officer Lintang Bedol with electoral fraud involving the 2007 elections in Maguindanao province. They allegedly conspired to ensure a 12-0 win for administration candidates, including Zubiri.
Zubiri was proclaimed the winner of the 12th Senate seat at stake in the election, but quit in
August 2011 after Bedol admitted the fraud. Koko Pimentel, who placed 13th and filed an electoral protest against him, served the remainder of Zubiri’s term.
Koko Pimentel, running as an administration candidate, won a fresh term in the 2013 elections.
The elder Pimentel first left the University of Makati (UMak), the city government-run university, after Binay broke his ties with PDP-Laban over political differences in 2014.
Nene agreed to return after Binay implored him not to allow politics to get in the way of his good programs at the university.
Binay said he found it odd that Koko, the party president, was allied with the administration, while his daughter, Sen. Nancy Binay, belonged to the opposition.
In September 2014, Pimentel finally vacated his post as lecturer and head of the Center for Local Governance at UMak, when the Senate began its inquiry into the charges of corruption and ill-gotten wealth against Binay.
Koko Pimentel is the chair of the Senate blue ribbon subcommittee that held more than a dozen hearings on allegations linking Binay to corruption in Makati City when he was its mayor.
“I thought that the situation called for my getting out. Otherwise, either way, if the investigation results in the acquittal, or cleansing of Jojo [Binay], people might think, even if it’s not true, that the reason for that is that his [Koko’s] father is there,” Nene said.
“On the other hand, if convicted, the other side, those partisan to Jojo, would say: ‘What is he doing there? He’s there, and he’s done nothing.’ So either way, it doesn’t look good,” he added.
Since then, Nene said he and Binay had never talked, except once.
In October 2014, they were invited to the same forum on local government at a Davao City hotel, and Binay sought Pimentel out, going up to his room for a chat.
“We said, ‘How are you?’ We talked about very noncontroversial topics. I just told him, ‘I wish you well and I hope the truth will come out to vindicate everyone if that’s possible,’” Pimentel said. Inquirer Research
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.