MANILA, Philippines (2ND UPDATE) – Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III has finally decided to leave Vice President Jejomar Binay's United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) following the coalition's decision to accept his rival, resigned Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, in its senatorial slate.
Pimentel made the announcement Thursday, June 28, after meeting with former President Joseph Estrada, who is a member of the party's national executive committee. Pimentel and Estrada met in Polk Clubhouse in San Juan at 11 a.m.
The senator said he has relayed the message to Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is abroad, through his chief of staff.
“Hindi ko kayang tumakbong senador sa ilalim ng UNA habang nando’n si Zubiri,” he said. (I can't afford to run under UNA as long as Zubiri is in it.) “Sabi ko kay President Estrada, I want to campaign with a happy heart. Gusto ko sa kampanya happy ako,” he told reporters.
The senator clarified, however, that he remains a member of his party, the Partido Demokrating Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), and will run under it. He is president of PDP-Laban.
He said that under PDP-Laban’s coalition agreement with Estrada’s Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), each party did not lose its identity in forming UNA.
Pimentel pointed out that when PDP-Laban coalesced with PMP to form UNA, Zubiri's name did not crop up. "Nakatago ang barahang ‘yon,” he said. “Nabulaga na lang ako no’ng ilabas ang barahang ‘yon.” (That was a hidden card. I was shocked when Zubiri's name suddenly came out.)
Photo from Pimentel's Twitter account
UNA: Koko knew about Migz
Yet UNA Secretary-General Navotas Rep Tobias "Toby" Tiangco told Rappler that Pimentel already knew about the possibility of Zubiri joining the slate as early as the coalition's first meeting last April 24.
"I don't think that's fair. In UNA's first meeting, he already raised his objection so he knew about it. I don't know what he is referring to [with the hidden card]."
Tiangco said UNA wishes Pimentel well. "Whatever his reason is, we have to respect it. He has decided."
With Pimentel bolting UNA, Tiangco said the alliance is back to having 7 official candidates:
'Up for adoption'
Pimentel said he's “up for adoption,” meaning he is open to being a guest candidate of other parties including the ruling Liberal Party.
Pimentel's decision came weeks after he announced his plan to bolt UNA due to Zubiri's inclusion in its 2013 senatorial slate. Zubiri, who left his Senate seat last year, is accused of robbing Pimentel of his Senate slot in the 2007 elections.
Pimentel has described his relation with UNA as "complicated." (Watch more in the video below.)
The relationship between UNA's founder, Binay, and the Pimentel family spans 3 decades. Binay and Koko Pimentel's father, Aquilino Jr, both led the anti-Marcos movement and founded PDP-Laban. – Rappler.com
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