Nene Pimentel: UNA for expediency, not change

MANILA, Philippines – For former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr, the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) should stop pretending to push for change.

Pimentel released a strongly worded statement against UNA following its decision to include resigned Sen Juan Miguel Zubiri in its senatorial slate.

UNA accepted Zubiri despite the vehement objection of Pimentel’s son, Sen Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who filed an electoral protest against Zubiri over the 2007 senatorial polls. (For UNA's reaction, read: UNA to Pimentels: It's not about the money

In a statement first posted on Interaksyon.com, the elder Pimentel criticized the alliance whose partner coalition is a party he helped found. Pimentel founded Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP), which later merged with the Lakas ng Bayan (Laban) of the late Sen Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

PDP-Laban formed an alliance with former President Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) to form UNA in the 2013 polls.

The Pimentels’ ally, Vice President Jejomar Binay heads UNA while Sen Koko Pimentel is PDP-Laban president.

“The UNA decision to accommodate [Migz] Zubiri as a 2013 senatorial candidate weakens its pretentions that it will set the tone for the reformation of our country’s corrupt political system,” said Pimentel Jr.

Pimentel Jr echoed his son, calling Zubiri an election cheat.

“By welcoming [Migz] into its fold, UNA has [unequivocally] put itself on the side of electoral cheats and sends the message that it will do anything to propel itself into power.”

The former Senate President maintained that his son is fighting for principles, saying that UNA is only after political expediency. 

“To UNA, the principles that Koko Pimentel is fighting for: clean and honest elections, transparency and accountability, especially of public officials are useless and irrelevant, and should be substituted by what is politically practical and expedient.”

BROKEN TIES? It remains to be seen how UNA's decision to accept Zubiri will affect ties between Binay and the Pimentels. File photo of PDP-Laban leaders from the party's 30th anniversary in February 2012. Photo by Reynaldo Santos Jr

BROKEN TIES? It remains to be seen how UNA's decision to accept Zubiri will affect ties between Binay and the Pimentels. File photo of PDP-Laban leaders from the party's 30th anniversary in February 2012.

Photo by Reynaldo Santos Jr

‘Money measure of good?’ 

Pimentel said UNA’s attitude will set back change in the Philippines “that some political figures mouth so easily to lure the gullible to board their bandwagon.”

“It seems that money is now the principal measure of what is right and good in the political arena.”

“But if UNA will not stand for principles, who will,” asked Pimentel. “And if not now, when?”

Pimentel Jr released the statement ahead of a meeting with family, friends and supporters his son intends to call to decide on his next move.

Pimentel confirms LP feelers 

On Tuesday, June 12, Pimentel III confirmed reports he has received feelers to run under President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party (LP). He said though he has yet to decide on his next move. 

LP leaders have said he is “more than welcome” to join them.

In interviews, Pimentel III has cited PDP's ties with the LP. There are reports Pimentel III may take PDP with him in case he decides to join the LP. 

"PDP-Laban, once upon a time, worked with the LP way back in 1992 when we fielded the Salonga-Pimentel president and vice president ticket so I know a lot of LP members and they are my friends but anyway, that should not be a factor when I meet my leaders, I will just look at the situation," he said.

"The situation is that PDP-Laban is one of two parties in a coalition agreement and our coalition partner has nominated someone whom I cannot run with as senator."

Forgiving vs rewarding

Last week, Estrada called on the younger Pimentel to forgive Zubiri in the same way he has forgiven his father.

“I was instrumental in making his father Senate President, but he turned his back against me in the impeachment. In fact, he was holding the microphone when Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was taking her illegal oath as president. What happened? But I forgot all this, what he did to me and that is already an open book.”

Yet in media interviews, Pimentel III said he has already forgiven Zubiri but does not see the need to “reward” him by running alongside him in the same slate. – Rappler.com

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