By Raïssa Robles
Let me give you the facts and you be the judge.
Last Wednesday August 3, 2011, Zubiri stunned the nation by resigning from the Senate and declaring “hindi ako kapit tuko” (I don’t cling to my post like a lizard).
He said in his privilege speech and his subsequent heartfelt interviews that he was unaware there was cheating in Maguindanao province and he was unaware that he benefited from it:
Without admitting any fault and with my vehement denial of the alleged electoral fraud hurled against me, I am submitting my resignation as a duly elected Senator of the Republic of the Philippines in the election for which I am falsely accused without mercy and compassion.
His dramatic gesture reaped praise in general.
But recall what really happened in 2007
Because some people like my crusading friend Gerry Kaimo recalled what Migz Zubiri said in the heat of the 2007 electoral battle when he and Koko Pimentel were clawing each other for the 12th and last Senate slot. Gerry reminded me that Zubiri had said then:
May chance pa tayo. Malaki pa ang chance. Pero iyong sa akin lang naman huwag sana i-exclude ang boto sa Maguindanao dahil sila po ay Filipino. Sila po ay may boses. Sila po ay may karapatan maghalal ng senador. Yan ang pinakaimportante.
[We still have a chance to win. A very big chance. As for me, we should not exclude votes in Maguindanao because they are Filipinos. They have the voice. They have the right to select senators. That is very important.]
Migz Zubiri has to explain what he meant by that. How did he know that the Maguindanao votes would deliver his victory?
Migz Zubiri persisted in his quest for a Senate seat and was proclaimed winner two months later by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Last Wednesday, Migz Zubiri vehemently said:
Ako ay bumitiw sa puwesto dahil gusto kong ibalik ang integridad ng aking pangalan at pamilya.Hindi po tayo nandaya. Wala po tayong kinausap na mandaya para sa atin. Hindi po namin tatanggapin ang boto ng pandaraya.
Kung may nandaya po sa 2007 elections, wala po tayong kinalaman diyan…Hindi po tayo nandaya. Wala po tayong kinausap na mandaya para sa atin. Hindi po namin tatanggapin ang boto ng pandaraya.
[I resigned from my post because I want to bring back the integrity of my name and family. We did not cheat. We did not ask anyone to cheat for us. We will not accept votes that came from cheating. If anyone cheated in the 2007 elections, we did not know anything about it. We did not cheat. We did not ask anyone to cheat for us. We will not accept votes that came from cheating.]
Really? You won’t?
But you did accept the votes for four years, Migz Zubiri. The election in Maguindanao was heavily tainted from the start and you knew it and you insisted that your overwhelming votes from there be included in the finally tally so you could win.
Again, how did you know you could count on the Maguindanao votes to boost you to victory?
Migz Zubiri was No. 1 in Maguindanao and won over 195,000 votes there. Gloria Arroyo’s senatorial bets won all the votes there while her opponents all got zero.
“When the votes from Maguindanao come in, I will lead Pimentel by 17,000 votes,” Zubiri said. He added that the COCs from Maguindanao have been with the Comelec since May 19. “They cannot accuse us of manipulating the COCs to cover Pimentel’s lead,” he said.
To place Migz Zubiri’s statements in context, let’s look at what actually took place in Maguindanao.
Migz Zubiri’s Senate seat was bought with blood
Election Day for the Philippines was May 14, 2007. It took Zubiri two months to be proclaimed senator.
By May 31, 2007, Migz Zubiri was the last man standing because his fellow administration senatorial candidate and fellow Spice Boy Mike Defensor conceded defeat on that day saying:
I concede because I love my family and I want my children to learn that there is honor in defeat.
What happened during those two months was magic laced with human blood.
Only a week after the elections, the lawyers’ group Lente, which was formed against electoral fraud, was approached by a school teacher with an astounding story. She claimed that on the eve of elections, she and her fellow teachers and their students were forced at gunpoint to fill up empty ballots with the names of Migz Zubiri and 11 other names who were running under the banner of Mrs. Arroyo.
The teacher even claimed they did the same thing in the 20004 presidential elections which Arroyo won.
Migz Zubiri did not lift a finger to have these grave accusations against his impending victory investigated.
On June 6, 2007, someone pumped several bullets into the face and chest of Maguindanao Schools District Supervisor Musa Dimasidsing. In the colorful language used by radio announcers – niratrat siya.
The murder prompted Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos to form Task Force Maguindanao. Abalos said it was mainly to look into why the election documents from Maguindanao had not reached the Comelec main office in Manila 26 days AFTER the May 14 elections.
The slain school supervisor had earlier squealed that in the town of Pagalungan, Maguindanao alone, votes were actually counted in only 19 of the 57 precincts there.
Now this was where Lintang Bedol came in. He was then the chairman of the Provincial Board of Canvassers for Maguindanao province. He actually told the poll commissioners at that time that the provincial canvassing was not witnessed by any of the poll watchdog groups or by any of the political parties, in violation of law.
Bedol brought to the Comelec the official Certificates of Canvass pertaining to votes in the province of Maguindanao. But Lintang Bedol said these were not the ORIGINAL copies because the original ones had been STOLEN BY THIEVES from him.
Bedol also failed to submit the canvassing results from the various towns and the Statement of Votes from every precinct, again in violation of law.
When summoned to appear before the Comelec and bring all these documents, Bedol simply went missing. And now he has surfaced to say there was massive cheating in that province.
Despite all these events, the Comelec chaired by Benjamin Abalos insisted on including the Bedol-supplied CoCs in the tallying of votes for Migz Zubiri and Koko Pimentel.
As Inquirer’s Nikko Dizon wrote on June 27, 2007:
“These proceedings are loaded. They are meant to legitimize the Bedol CoC, maybe bawasan ng konti ang mga boto (shave the votes a bit) … Solved na si Zubiri,” a frustrated Neri Colmenares, Bayan Muna lawyer, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer after he walked out of the provincial capitol’s session hall where the canvassing was being held.
Colmenares was referring to Maguindanao’s controversial election supervisor Lintang Bedol, who claimed he had lost to thieves the first copies of the Maguindanao CoCs.
Before last week, Migz Zubiri had always insisted he did not cheat and he actually won in Maguindanao.
But because of the surfacing of Bedol as a possible state witness and the claim of cheating by former Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao Zaldy Ampatuan, Migz Zubiri has suddenly changed his story.
He now says there was cheating and a massive one at that. True, he benefited, but he claims he KNEW NOTHING ABOUT IT.