Pimentel leaves UNA over Zubiri's inclusion on slate

Jonathan de Santos
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III will not run under the United Nationalist Alliance in 2013, but will stay with PDP-Laban, which is part of UNA.

Pimentel told reporters Thursday that he met with former President Joseph Estrada, whose Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino forms the other half of UNA, to convey his decision. Pimentel has also sent word to Vice President Jejomar Binay, PDP-Laban chairman, he said.

"Ako ay nagpaalam na ng maayos di ko po kayang tumakbo as senator under UNA dahil na rin sa sitwasyon na makakasama ko ang taong kumuha ng apat na taon ng termino ko bilang senador. Ganun lang ka-simple," he said.

Pimentel was referring to resigned senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, with whom Pimentel was locked in an electoral protest until 2011, when the Senate Electoral Tribunal decided in Pimentel's favor. Zubiri resigned from the Senate just before the SET decision but denied cheating in the 2007 elections.

Zubiri, nominated as a senatorial candidate under PMP, has said he would try to mend the rift between him and Pimentel. The senator said he could not run alongside Zubiri “with a clear conscience.”

Pimentel added that his decision to decline UNA's nomination to its senatorial slate will not affect the coalition between PDP-Laban and PMP.

Pimentel said having the endorsements of Binay, Estrada, and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile would help him in his reelection bid, and that he still hopes for their support. "Pero ganyan naman ang buhay, sometimes you cannot have it all. We are willing to take the risk," he said.

Will Pimentel join the administration Liberal Party now that he has turned down a slot on the UNA slate?

"Huwag muna natin pag-usapan yan kasi wala pa namang formal invitation for me (to join LP)," he said, but added he is open to adoption by other political parties.