By Xave Gregorio
Senator Leila de Lima said she will not resign from her post like Senator Migz Zubiri did in 2011, despite an ongoing poll protest filed against her by Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Sec. Francis Tolentino.
De Lima has been told by 2016 Senate race loser Tolentino that resigning like Zubiri, who also faced a poll protest filed by now-Senate President Koko Pimentel, would be more “magnanimous” and show “delicadeza.”
However, De Lima reminded the former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair that unlike his electoral protest against her with the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), Pimentel’s petition against Zubiri was “clearly meritorious.”
“Need Mr. Tolentino be reminded that Pimentel’s protest was clearly meritorious as proven by the revision results of massively manufactured election returns from then Ampatuan-controlled province of Maguindanao?” De Lima said Friday (February 2) in a statement.
“I know that because I was Koko Pimentel’s election lawyer. Tolentino’s protest, patently frivolous and baseless as it is, is nothing compared to the Pimentel protest,” De Lima continued.
Zubiri resigned in August 2011 amid a pending poll protest by Pimentel, who failed to clinch the 12th Senate spot in the 2007 elections by a little over 21,000 votes.
His resignation was followed by a landmark ruling of the SET, which proclaimed Pimentel as the rightful winner of the 12th seat and revised that poll tally between the two politikos, handing Pimentel a 258,000 lead in votes.
De Lima said Tolentino, who lost to the senator detained in Camp Crame on drug charges by a million votes, was not cheated and “simply lost.”
“This was confirmed upon the opening of the ballot boxes from the 650 clustered precincts that you designated as best exemplifying the alleged fraud or irregularity. You know that the revision/recount of ballots in your pilot precincts showed that you had no vote recovery, and there was not an iota of fraud or irregularity discovered that could cast doubt on the integrity and credibility of the concluded 2016 elections,” she said.
She also alleged that Tolentino mulled withdrawing his poll protest a week after the SET began its recount.
“Despite knowing this, he continued to spend millions upon millions of his resources because he was hoping to please his new master. Nakikisawsaw na rin siya sa walang-humpay na paninira sakin. I am dismayed at what he has become,” De Lima said of Tolentino, who was with her in the 2016 senatorial slate of the Liberal Party before he exited over his alleged involvement in inviting sexy dancers to an event of the party.
Tolentino then ran as an independent senatorial candidate and later teamed up joined the Senate slate endorsed by the tandem of President Rodrigo Duterte and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.