He may have resigned from the Senate but Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri yesterday vowed to stage a comeback in 2013.
“This is a temporary setback, I will come back with a bang,” Zubiri told the DAILY STAR in a phone interview yesterday.
Zubiri, who resigned from the Senate Wednesday, is arriving in Negros Occidental today to further explain to his fellow Negrenses the reason for his actions and to thank them for their support.
Zubiri’s resignation has been described by Negrense leaders as a loss to Negros Occidental and the sugar industry.
During his incumbency as senator he had allocated P1 million for each of the 32 towns and cities of Negros Occidental for various projects. An additional P500,000 for each of the 32 areas was set to be allocated this year, but Zubiri told the DAILY STAR that with his resignation, that will not materialize.
Zubiri, who is set to speak before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Negros Occidental Chapter at L‘Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City tonight, assured that he will continue working for the interests of Negros Occidental and the sugar industry in his private capacity.
The senator also said he will run for the Senate in 2013 so that he can continue serving the province again in an official capacity.
Zubiri, whose father is from Kabankalan City, in a privilege speech Wednesday afternoon delivered before the Senate, said he was resigning with honor and dignity, amid claims that he benefited from alleged cheating in the 2007 senatorial elections.
”I did not cheat nor ask anyone to cheat for me and my family. We would never tolerate any form of electoral fraud,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri’s winning the 12th slot in the 2007 senatorial elections was contested by Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, who charged that he was cheated of his victory and filed a protest before the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
Pimentel is married to Negrense beauty queen, Jewel Mae Lobaton, former Miss MassKara of Bacolod City. She was the Miss Philippines-Universe 1998 first runner-up who was officially selected as the Philippine representative in the Miss Universe pageant held in Honolulu, Hawaii.
With the withdrawal of his counter protest before the Senate Electoral Tribunal, Zubiri said Pimentel is expected to be proclaimed Senator within a month.
Zubiri said if he did not withdraw his counter protest, he could have delayed the Senate Electoral Tribunal’s decision but what is important is to uphold the public’s interest, he said.
Zubiri said he was touched by the outpouring of support for him from Negrenses, and hopes that they understand that his resignation had to be done for a higher purpose.
Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday again called Zubiri a true statesman for resigning even before the Senate Electoral Tribunal came out with a decision.
“He (Zubiri) helped Negros Occidental very much, he is a loss to our province but he will be back, I’m sure of that,” the governor said.
He cited Zubiri’s having championed the cause of the sugar industry and the needs of Negros Occidental.
“I hope Zubiri’s actions will serve as an example to other politicians,” Marañon said.
EB Magalona Mayor David Albert Lacson, president of the League of Municipalities-Negros Occidental chapter and Negros Association of Chief Executives, said the LMP and ACE Negros Occidental laud Zubiri for his resignation.
He (Zubiri) is truly a rare breed of politician worthy of emulation, Lacson said.
Lacson, who is also the senator’s third cousin, said, “At least Senator Zubiri proved that he’s not after the power but the dignity of his family.”
The LMP and ACE chief also asked Negrenses to cease from speculating that Zubiri is “guilty” of poll fraud because he resigned from his current post.
“Let us be reminded that allegations of rigging the 2007 election that catapulted him (Zubiri) to power remain to be proven yet,” Lacson stressed.
“But the best thing that happened was that Sen. Zubiri acted as a true statesman with all delicadeza,” Lacson said.
Jose Ramos, secretary and treasurer of the CONFED sugar coops, said he is saddened by the untimely resignation of Zubiri.
“Negros Occidental and the sugar industry lost an effective and able defender. He authored and worked for the passage of the new Cooperative Act of the Philippines that exempted sugar producers’ cooperatives from the VAT (Value Added Tax),” Ramos said.
The Senate Wednesday decided not to act on Zubiri’s resignation and accept it at face value.
“The senators decided that we should not even vote or we should not even take it upon ourselves whether we should accept or not accept a resignation. We should just take it at face value,” SenateMinorityLeaderAlan Cayetano said yesterday.
“Because if we accept it then we will be admitting that we have the powers to accept it, and it will become a precedent that every time that happens we will have to vote,” he said.*CPG