The difference between senators Koko and Migz
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - March 28, 2020 - 12:00am

There are many things in common between Koko and Migz, the two Cebuano-speaking senators, but the COVID-19 crisis revealed last week, as we all witnessed, that there are also many things different between them. Both were tested positive, but one of them behaved negatively.

Let us start with their similarities. Both Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Juan Miguel Zubiri are from Mindanao, in fact from Region 10, Northern Mindanao. Pimentel is from Cagayan de Oro City, the capital of Misamis Oriental and the entire region, while Zubiri is from Malaybalay, the capital of Bukidnon, which is the breadbasket of the region where the famous Del Monte pineapple plantation is located. Koko is a city boy, son of the famous Nene Pimentel, topnotch lawyer, human rights advocate, senator and Senate President. Migz is a rural boy but born in Makati, son of a local haciendero, and political kingpin of Bukidnon, Jose Ma Zubiri.

Koko is a lawyer, in fact, a bar topnotcher. He topped the 1990 Bar Exams with a rating of 89.65. He studied in Ateneo where he obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics and finished his Law studies in UP Dilliman. His father was a law professor in Xavier University, and Koko taught Law in UE and FEU. Migz studied at the Colegio de San Agustin and then obtained his degree in Agri Business in UP Los Baños. Migz was a businessman, he used to own and manage restaurants selling steak and back ribs taken from their own ranch in Malaybalay. In 2017, Migz's net worth was P152 million (now estimated at P170M) while Koko had P 18M net worth in 2017 and today estimated at P20M.

The two crossed path when in the 2007 elections, Zubiri defeated Pimentel for the last spot for senator, with Migz getting 11,005,866 votes to Koko's 10,984,347. But Koko protested. Before the final decision could be released, Migz resigned in 2011. That was called delicadeza. Then the tribunal proclaimed Koko with a final tally of 10,898,786 for him and 10,640,620 for Migz. Then, after the last polls, the two found themselves in the same chamber. When Migz learned that he tested positive, he voluntarily quarantined himself. That was delicadeza. When Koko went to Makati Med, that was some days after he suffered symptoms and should have exercised prudence by staying away from his wife and from the hospital. That wasn’t delicadeza.

The late Nene Pimentel was one of my heroes. He was a gentleman through and through. We met a number of times. We believed in the same principles and we were fighting a common enemy. His mother was a Dela Llana from Luzon a lady of brains and talents, and a great musician. Koko belongs to a different generation. He was born in 1964, older than Migz by five years, since Zubiri was born in 1969. Migz is married to Audrey Tan and they have three children. Koko married a beauty contest winner, Jewel May Lobaton in 2000. They have two kids but separated in 2012. The wife that Koko accompanied in Makati Med is Katrina Yu whom he married in 2018. By this time Koko must be a dad again.

I don't want to judge Koko or praise Migz. I leave it to the readers to decide. But if I were to choose, I would like to have a son like Migz even if he isn’t a Bar topnotcher. On the other hand, we shouldn’t be very cruel to Koko. We too are imperfect, and we might have done worse, given the predicament he was in. Let's us think positive even if in COVID-19, we are negative.

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