Koko mulls libel case vs Migz for claiming that he's a wife-beater

The online news portal of TV5

MANAOAG, Pangasinan - Reelectionist Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III on Saturday said that he had asked his lawyers to study the possibility of filing a libel case against fellow senatorial bet Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri over the latter's statement on television that Pimentel was a wife-beater.

"My lawyers are studying possible libel, we will discuss the draft complaint when I go back to Manila," Pimentel told reporters in an interview here.

Zubiri made the remarks in a face-off with Pimentel in a television talk show. Zubiri claimed that Pimentel's wife, Jewel May Lobaton-Pimentel, who is Zubiri's distant cousin, confessed to him that she was being beaten up by her husband. "His estranged wife is my cousin and she herself confided to me that she is a battered wife." 

On Friday, Jewel issued a letter denying Zubiri's statement.

On Saturday, Pimentel said that he had communicated with his estranged wife, Jewel, and told her to shield their children from political attacks. "I told her to just protect the kids, (look after) the best interest of the kids. I said we will have some changes in the arrangements, so let me have the kids, that's why I will have the kids this weekend," he said.

"I know the truth so I'm okay. I'm at peace with myself. I can forgive him for the personal attacks, but of course, I pity my kids, they can read the news, they know how to research, what happened could be [on] YouTube," Pimentel said.

"I have forgiven Migz Zubiri, but on the matter of cheating in the 2007 elections, it would be the people who will decide whether they have forgiven him," he added.

In June 2012, Pimentel bolted UNA after the coalition's decided to keep Zubiri on its senatorial slate.

Pimentel filed an election protest against the proclamation of Zubiri as senator in the 2007 polls wherein President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's senatorial candidates won in a 12-0 sweep in Maguindanao.  

In July 2011, former Maguindanao elections supervisor Lintang Bedol and  former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan bared that a massive election fraud took place in the province during the 2007 polls and that Arroyo had a hand in the alleged cheating in Maguindanao. Arroyo was later on placed under hospital arrest after she was slapped with the nonbailable offense of electoral sabotage by the Commission on Elections. 

After Bedol and Ampatuan's revelations, Zubiri resigned as senator on August 3, 2011. He admitted that his resignation was triggered by Bedol and Ampatuan's claim that no election was held or cheating was massive in Maguindanao where Zubiri got a lot of votes. 

On August 11, 2011, the Senate Electoral Tribunal proclaimed Pimentel as among the winners in the 2007 senatorial polls and confirmed allegations that there was cheating in the said elections. Pimentel garnered 10,898,786 votes while Zubiri only got 10,640,620 votes. 

Meanwhile, Team PNoy candidates Jamby Madrigal and Risa Hontiveros took the cudgels for Pimentel and slammed Zubiri, calling him "not only a cheat, but a liar." 

"I commend Jewel's courage na harapin ang isyung ito para ipaglaban ang kanyang karapatan bilang isang babae at ang kapakanan ng kanyang mga menor de edad na anak [to face this issue and fight for her right as a woman and also for the benefit of her young children]," Madrigal said.

“Migz Zubiri finally crossed the line and plunged into the darkest depths of gutter politics when he invaded the privacy of the Pimentels’ home and peddled that shameless falsehood,” she added.

Hontiveros urged Zubiri "to desist from exploiting the very real issue of violence against women to shore up UNA’s rapidly declining ratings.”

"Stop hiding behind invented stories of physical abuse to shore up their campaign," Hontiveros told Zubiri and UNA.

Hontiveros pointed out that “domestic violence is a real issue, and should not be taken lightly.”

She said Zubiri had committed something that was “unethical and could be harmful to the family involved."