Koko Pimentel, Migz Zubiri: ‘Bitter rivals’ no more

Camille Elemia

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Koko Pimentel, Migz Zubiri: ‘Bitter rivals’ no more
No less than Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri nominates his erstwhile rival and fellow Mindanaoan Koko Pimentel for Senate President

MANILA, Philippines – All is well that ends well.

That’s the case for newly-elected Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who publicly ended their 5-year feud on Monday, July 25.

No less than Zubiri nominated his erstwhile rival and fellow Mindanaoan for the top Senate post.

“It is my honor and privilege to second the nomination of a fellow Mindanaoan leader who in the past I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having as a bitter rival. But today I leave all that bitterness behind us as a sign of unity, magnanimity, and support for our people and our fellow Mindanaoan president, who has made history for our region,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri’s inclusion in the majority, however, was only confirmed days before the session. Asked why the apparent last-minute decision, Zubiri refused to answer, saying he’d rather not focus on it.

Pimentel, for his part, alluded to their longtime feud in his speech. For him, past is past.

“My family knows my story, they know the hardships I had gone through, which I will no longer mention. As I have stated them in August 2011 when I joined this chamber, let bygones be bygones,” Pimentel said in his acceptance speech.

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara took the chance to make light of the situation.

“Mr President, mukhang bati na po sila,” eliciting laughter from the crowd.

The two were earlier embroiled in a feud over electoral fraud in the 2007 race that initially gave Zubiri a Senate seat.

Zubiri was then proclaimed the 12th winning senator narrowly defeating Pimentel, but later resigned after evidence of poll cheating in Maguindanao surfaced. Pimentel replaced him in the Senate in August 2011.

In 2013, Pimentel and his father, former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr, had a falling out with their then party mate in PDP-Laban, Vice President Jejomar Binay, after the latter insisted on including Zubiri in the Senate slate of the United Nationalist Alliance.

The mess spilled over to their personal lives, when Zubiri accused Pimentel of beating his ex-wife Jewel – to which Pimentel responded by threatening to file a libel suit against Zubiri. Jewel, who is related to Zubiri, had asked for the ex-senator’s help about her marital woes.

But now the two senators are willing to leave the past behind. As the saying goes, in politics there are no permanent friends or allies, only permanent interests. – Rappler.com 

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.