By Angelo L. Gutierrez – Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri today announced that he is resigning from the Senate amid allegations that he benefitted from massive election fraud in 2007.
“In this august chamber, without admitting any fault… I am submitting my resignation as duly elected Senate of the Republic of the Philippines in the election which I am falsely accused without mercy and compassion,” Zubiri said in his privilege speech this afternoon.
Zubiri said that he has directed his lawyers to inform the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) of his intention to resign “with the end in view of expediting the proceedings with the prayer that the tribunal come up with a decision at the soonest possible time.
The SET is currently hearing the election protest of lawyer Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III against Zubiri.
Zubiri clarified that he is resigning ahead of tribunal’s decision, “not because I wish to evade the decision of the SET.”
“Handa po akong tanggapin ang anumang hatol mula sa nasabing hukuman,” he added.
The senator said that the main reason behind his decision was to spare his family and the Senate from the election fraud controversy.
“I have seen and felt the suffering of my family, and from the burrows of my conscience, I could not allow this to happen, let alone to be tolerated. After all I am a husband first before a senator, and I am a father before a legislator,” Zubiri said in his speech.
He added that he wanted to save the country from being divided.
“I am resigning because of these unfounded accusations against me and these issues have systematically divided our nation and has cast doubt in our electoral system which has affected not only myself, but this institution together with the public as well,” Zubiri said.
He said that he also wanted to preserve his integrity as a public servant.
“No amount of power, position or wealth is worth sacrificing one’s honor and integrity. Sa bandang huli, ang legasiya ng isang tao ay hindi nasusukat kung gaano kataas ang posisyon ang kanyang narating o ang dami ng kanyang yaman na naipon, kungdi ito ay nasusukat sa kanyang pagpapanatiling malinis at walang bahid dungis ang kanyang sariling dignidad at integridad.”
Zubiri won by a slim margin of at least 21,000 votes against Pimentel during the 2007 senatorial elections.
Pimentel filed an election protest after Zubiri was proclaimed winner of the 12th senatorial seat.
The Commission on Election (Comelec) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to start its joint investigation into the alleged massive election fraud in 2004 and 2007.
The joint probe will be conducted based on testimonies of new witnesses, including former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol.
Bedol had said that he was ordered to pad votes for Zubiri and other candidates under the ticket of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
The former election officer also said that he was ordered to shave votes from then senatorial candidates Alan Peter Cayetano, Panfilo Lacson and Benigno Aquino III.
Bedol came out after suspended ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan made the same allegation.
The Comelec has already obtained testimonies from Bedol and other supposed witnesses to the massive election fraud in 2004 and 2007.
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