Trillanes: Zubiri a cheat
This is what I like about Sen. Antonio Trillanes- he calls a spade a spade. If Zubiri makes it to the Senate courtesy of the manufactured votes of Maguindanao, he will just like Gloria Arroyo – got his position by cheating. We will forever regard him as Sen. Daya na Zubiri.
Trillanes, who had just taken his oath of office, wasted no time in making his thoughts about Zubiri known.
“I wouldn’t want a cheat to join me in the Senate,” Trillanes told ABS-CBN News Channel.
“I believe Congressman Zubiri knows deep in his heart that he benefited from cheating. If he is decent enough, he wouldn’t accept [victory in the Senate race] because that is not something you want your kids to emulate,” he added.
Trillanes took his oath of office before his friend, barangay chairman Ruben Gatchalian, in Caloocan City. The senator was accompanied by his mother, Tely, and two children, Seth and Thea.
Sen. Rodolfo Biazon and a number of local officials also attended the oathtaking.
Trillanes, who led the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny, ran under the Genuine Opposition in the May elections. He currently faces rebellion charges at the Makati City Regional Trial Court and several violations of the Philippine Army’s Articles of War before a military tribunal. If found guilty, he has to give up his Senate seat.
Though a local court has yet to allow Trillanes to leave detention to attend Senate hearings, Trillanes said he will take an active role in investigating alleged cheating in Maguindanao province, which could affect the chances of fellow GO bet Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III in the Senate race.
Pimentel and Zubiri were locked in a tight race for the 12th and final slot.
Zubiri threatens to sue
Zubiri, for his part, said Trillanes’s accusations were unfair. “It was uncalled for… calling me a cheat.”
He said his lawyers are mulling the possible filing of libel charges against the new senator after hearing his interview on ANC.
“He is maligning my reputation. He is not immune from lawsuits. Even though he is an elected senator, he cannot go out in public and say [those words],” Zubiri said.
“He’s a loose cannon. It shows his immaturity. He is not bringing it to the proper forum,” he added.
If the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc decides to canvass the provincial certificate of canvass from Maguindanao and Zubiri is proclaimed as senator-elect, Trillanes said he will challenge everybody “not to take it lightly because we cannot afford to have another cheat, in this case, in the Senate.”
As of 8:40 p.m. Thursday, Pimentel was still in 12th place with 10,906,451 votes while Zubiri remained in 13th place with 10,773,446 votes. Pimentel had a 133,005 vote lead over Zubiri.
In the Maguindanao special canvassing, Zubiri led the Senate race with 195,823 votes while Pimentel received only 67,111 votes. Zubiri’s lead over Pimentel was 128,712.
The COMELEC en banc reconvened at 2 p.m. Friday to count votes from Shariff Kabunsuan, Maguindanao and Bais City in Negros Oriental.
The counting of Maguindanao votes was scheduled after the Supreme Court on Thursday junked Pimentel’s petition to stop its inclusion in the national canvassing.
Trillanes said Filipinos have suffered for tolerating the alleged illegitimacy of President Arroyo who is being accused of cheating in the 2004 presidential election.
“We tolerated GMA regardless of her cheating, which all of us know and have confirmed. We heard it in the ‘Hello, Garci’ recordings. What will it bring to us? Only chaos and division,” he added.
‘Hello, Garci’ probe
In the interview, Trillanes said he and Sen. Panfilo Lacson, along with other members of the opposition bloc in the Senate, have started gathering “testimonial and documentary” evidence of electoral fraud in the elections held in Mindanao.
He said that when the 14th Congress opens, the opposition bloc will immediately initiate a Senate inquiry on poll cheating activities allegedly committed by the administration.
He added that the opposition will re-open the “Hello, Garci” tapes inquiry.
“We have to go back, for the sake of the people dying in Mindanao. We have to rectify the anomaly. If [the country] really wants to move forward, we have to get rid of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” he said.
Aside from the “Hello, Garci” probe, he said the opposition bloc will investigate reports that three military generals have direct knowledge of the extrajudicial killings in the country.
Trillanes added, however, that he does not believe that the murders of leftist activists in the country are a matter of state policy.
“I believe and am convinced that this is not a policy of the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] per se, but only the policy of some erring, ignorant AFP officials who [don't] seem to know their history that such tactics or measures have long been obsolete; and that there are more successful models that we can bank on [to win] this war of attrition,” he said.