Zubiri did the right thing by resigning
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri did the right thing in resigning from the Senate in the wake of accusations and confessions of cheating in the 2004 and 2007 elections. That was a good decision: quit while you are ahead. It boosted his chances of being elected in the 2013 senatorial elections, in which he would be seeking a fresh mandate. While resigning, Zubiri however insisted that he did not cheat or ask anybody to cheat for him. His resignation, therefore, was statesmanly, made by a gentleman. He resigned with honor intact. The sympathy was clearly with him after his privilege speech during which he announced his resignation and said goodbye to his colleagues in the Senate.
There will be a return bout between Zubiri and his rival, Koko Pimentel, who will surely run for election or reelection (if he is proclaimed winner by the Senate Electoral Tribunal). That would be an interesting contest to watch. While Pimentel’s accession to the Senate is not automatic with Zubiri’s resignation, it would be difficult for the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) not to proclaim him the winner. The recount shows Pimentel ahead of Zubiri by approximately 250,000 votes. And since Zubiri has abandoned his counter protest, there would be no way he could overtake that margin.
Unlike many politicians, Zubiri showed that he is not a kapit-tuko, an official who refuses to leave his position in spite of evidence that the position was fraudulently taken. Other less honorable politicians would have held on and employed dilatory tactics in the SET case to stay in the Senate as long as possible and leave his rival as little of the term left. But not Zubiri. He is made of better stuff and the Senate would be a better place with him there.
I am sure it was very difficult for him to leave the Senate but under the circumstances, it was the best, and honorable, thing to do. There will surely be investigations and charges filed on the cheating in the 2004 and 2007 elections. And with the confessions of the police team that raided the House of Representatives and replaced the election returns with doctored ones, plus the confessions of Comelec supervisor Lintang Bedol and former ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan about the cheating, there was no way Zubiri could avoid being linked to it, he being one of the beneficiaries. With his resignation, however, maybe that closes the book on him.
Had he opted to stay on, his involvement would have sunk deeper as the investigations uncovered more details. That would have affected his chances in the 2013 senatorial elections. The epithet “cheater” would have followed him everywhere.
As of now, however, with a clean slate, he has two years to go around the country shaking hands and delivering speeches, with his image clean and honorable.
I will vote for him, and Pimentel, in 2013.
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With the noose tightening around his neck, former Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Chairman Manuel Morato is now playing the blame game and passing the buck to former Malacañang officials who allegedly “pressured” him to approve highly questionable contracts in the lease of equipment and software in PCSO’s lotto operations.
So far, Morato has implicated former President Fidel V. Ramos who appointed him. He said FVR’s orders were made through former Presidential Legal Counsels Renato Corona and Antonio Carpio, now chief justice and associate justice, respectively. All three have yet to respond to Morato’s accusations which came out during the continuation of the Senate blue ribbon committee hearings on the misuse of funds by the previous PCSO board.
FVR must rue the day he appointed Morato who claimed he was an “unwilling” appointee as PCSO chairman and “had no choice but to accept the position.”
The senators and the Senate gallery found it hard to believe the position was forced on him because he served another term as PCSO board member under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Under probing questioning by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Sen. Franklin Drilon, Morato wilted under fire. When asked by Enrile why two losing bidders, G Tech and Tanjog, were still awarded contracts for their machines to operate lotto in Visayas and Mindanao, Morato replied: “I had no choice but to obey Malacañang’s instructions.”
Morato claimed Malacañang ordered him to limit to Luzon the countrywide contract won by Philippine Gaming Management Co., a subsidiary of Berjaya, a Malaysian firm. Losing bidders G Tech and Tanjog were then given the Visayas and Mindanao operations. The two companies subsequently emerged as Pacific Online Inc.
This is hard to believe. Morato knows that the PCSO board is independent. And even assuming FVR ordered him to award the STL operation in the Visayas and Mindanao to the two losing bidders, he and the other members of the board could have politely explained to FVR the legal implications of his order. The fact is, it was Morato, as chairman, who reportedly pushed for the award to the two losing bidders.
Enrile was incensed by Morato’s admission that he allowed a cartel-like arrangement with foreign companies, G Tech and Tanjog, without a new public bidding. “You must love your job,” Enrile chided Morato.
Enrile said that in view of the Senate findings, he will initiate a review of the PCSO charter to rationalize its operations so that its enormous earnings could better serve the poor in need of medical assistance.
Asked by Drilon what the present PCSO board is doing to fix the problem, director Aleta Tolentino replied that the contract with the equipment and software provider is under review.
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