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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, August 6, 2011
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Zubiri offers help
for sugar industry

BY CARLA GOMEZ

Resigned Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri yesterday said he is offering his services as a P1 a year consultant and adviser to the sugar industry, and promised to pursue the one-Visayas bridge project in his private capacity.

Zubiri, at a press conference, said he was in Bacolod to thank Negrenses for their support for him following his resignation from the Senate Wednesday and to speak before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines -- Negros Occidental chapter last night.

He is prepared to assist the sugar industry in its concerns at the Bureau of Customs, Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Agriculture, Zubiri said.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture will still hear his request for an inquiry on premix sugar, which he will follow up, Zubiri also said.

We will continue the battle against sugar smuggling, he said.

He will also pursue the completion of the feasibility studies for the building of bridges that will connect the Visayan islands in his private capacity, to present to the Aquino administration, Zubiri said.

Zubiri also pledged to keep up his advocacies for the environment and cooperatives, and remain visible.

“There is life after politics, there is life after government,” he said.

ON PIMENTEL

Meanwhile, Zubiri said he expects the Senate to come out with a resolution accepting his resignation and acknowledging the Senate Electoral Tribunal’s decision proclaiming Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as the winner of the 12th slot in the 2007 senatorial elections soon.

That will be the outcome because he pulled out his counter protest, Zubiri said.

Zubiri, whose father is from Kabankalan City, in Negros Occidental, reiterated that he did not cheat in the 2007 polls, and that no amount of power, position or wealth is worth sacrificing for one’s honor and integrity.

He has been subjected to trial by publicity amid allegations of poll cheating in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and Maguindanao, Zubiri said.

If cheating was indeed done in his behalf there, Zubiri said, he had no knowledge of it.

“But if there was evidence that we had benefited from cheating, even if we did not know and did no ask for it, I was ready and willing to leave and that is why I resigned,” he said.

RUNNING AGAIN

He instead will run again for the Senate in 2013 and seek a fresh and more convincing mandate, Zubiri said.

“It is better to seek a fresh mandate than to fool the people with a hallow victory,” he said.

Sen. Pia Cayetano yesterday said Senate Electoral Tribunal will rule “with dispatch” on Pimentel’s election protest after Zubiri had formally withdrawn his counter-protest.

Based on the revised ballots and other election documents, Cayetano noted that Pimentel had recovered a total of 257,401 votes. Zubiri’s lead over Pimentel in the 2007 count was only 18,519 votes.

DOJ PROBE

Zubiri said if he is invited to the Department of Justice probe on electoral fraud, he will have to attend.

But he has no knowledge of the alleged cheating in the ARRM and Maguindanao, he said.

What I will share with the DOJ is the evidence found in Metro Manila of vote shaving and fake ballots in favor of the then opposition, he said.

Zubiri said his relationship with President Benigno Aquino is lukewarm because he opposed the ARMM election postponement.

He joked that Malacañang must be happy that he resigned.*CPG

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