MANILA, Philippines – Want to survive the political war? Then work together.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile offered this advice to his new party mate, resigned Sen Juan Miguel Zubiri and Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
With the two likely to be in the same senatorial slate, Enrile urged Pimentel to reconcile with the man he accused of cheating him in the 2007 polls.
“If you are a politician [and] you maintain grudges, in the end you will be destroyed. When you go together in war, you have to work together to survive and politics is some kind of war in a peaceful way. It’s a struggle for power,” said Enrile.
Enrile gave the statement in an interview before he swore in Zubiri as a member of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) at the Club Filipino in San Juan on Thursday, May 3. Zubiri took his oath along with Manila Vice Mayor Isko Moreno. (Read: Erap: Isko and I unbeatable, inseparable)
Enrile is PMP chairman while former President Joseph Estrada is chairman emeritus of the party.
Zubiri’s oath-taking paves the way for his inclusion in the senatorial ticket of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), a coalition between PMP and Vice President Jejomar Binay's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Pimentel is president of PDP-Laban. He opposed Zubiri’s entry into PMP and the UNA slate.
Erap: Migz not part of poll fraud
Estrada also made it clear that Zubiri is “very welcome” to PMP despite Pimentel’s reservations and criticism that Zubiri was an Arroyo ally.
In a speech, Estrada said, “We will not accept any candidate who is tainted with corruption. We know Senator Migz. If he was part of cheating, then he should have been imprisoned too. Because he wasn’t imprisoned, it means he was not part of electoral sabotage.”
Pimentel filed an electoral protest against Zubiri over the 2007 senatorial polls.
Pimentel was only able to assume his Senate seat last year when the Senate Electoral Tribunal declared him the winner of the protest. Zubiri resigned shortly before this.
‘Do you accuse a friend of cheating?’
Zubiri told reporters that he has no ill feelings toward Pimentel. He said Binay called him saying the Vice President will sit the two of them together to resolve their differences.
“I treat him (Pimentel) as a friend, an ally in issues and programs needed by our countrymen in Mindanao and Visayas. I hope we’ll be together to stop political bickering and disunity,” Zubiri said.
In his Twitter account, Pimentel had a strong response to Zubiri’s statement.
Pimentel was referring to the counter-protest Zubiri filed against Pimentel. To this day, the senator maintains Zubiri was part of the cheating and wants him included in the electoral sabotage case.
Still, Pimentel's partymates in PDP-Laban, Joey de Venecia and lawyer JV Bautista, attended the oath-taking of Zubiri in PMP.
‘Binay, Erap not obsessed with past’
In his acceptance speech, Zubiri said that he decided to join PMP because he supported its stand on issues like national sovereignty, fighting poverty and protecting the environment.
He apologized to Estrada for criticizing him when he was still Bukidnon representative.
Zubiri also took a swipe at the Aquino administration as he praised Binay and Estrada.
“We need a party that will heal the wounds of the past, that will not judge your person based on who you worked with in the past, a party that is focused on the road ahead and not one that is consumed by rearview mirror politics or the politics of hatred.”
“And this is the quality embodied by President Erap Estrada, Senate President Enrile, Senator Jinggoy Estrada and our coalition leader, Vice President Jejomar Binay. Thankfully, they are the kind of leaders that do not obsess with what went on before.” – Rappler.com