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Senate rallies around Zubiri

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri
Macon Ramos-Araneta

‘Coup’ efforts started last week, but senators ‘know nothing’ of move

Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday revealed there were efforts to have him replaced as leader of the Upper Chamber since last week.

Amid the fresh ouster plot, Zubiri said he has been communicating closely with his fellow senators, who he said denied knowledge of the push for a leadership change.

“I am extremely honored to serve at the pleasure of my colleagues…I leave it to the wisdom of our majority,” he said.

“We will just focus on the job at hand, and we’ll not lose sight of the most important things to help the Filipino people. So that’s it,” Zubiri added.

He said his colleagues at the Upper Chamber “know nothing about [the alleged coup].”

“We’ll know today. We’ll know today if I’ll give you a farewell dinner or not. But if not, then let’s continue working. It’s important we continue working for the people,” he said.

Zubiri is leading an overwhelming majority of 21 senators against just two minority members – Minority Leader Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and Senator Risa Hontiveros – although the ruling party in past Senates has initiated leadership shuffles before.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada, whose name was floated as a possible replacement, said he has nothing to do with the reported coup plot in the Senate.

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything about that,” he said.

Estrada said he has not spoken to his colleagues about the ouster rumor.

Asked if he sees a need to replace Zubiri, Estrada said: “Right now, I don’t think so.”

Senator Grace Poe, who was also rumored to be among the possible replacements, denied there was such a push.

“Absolutely untrue. We trust the leadership of Senator Zubiri,” she said.

Over the weekend, Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said they have observed an apparent “leadership vacuum” in the Senate.

This as Zubiri previously announced a ceasefire between the Senate and the House over Charter change but said he won’t stop Senator Imee Marcos from conducting a probe on the signature campaign for a people’s initiative to amend the Constitution.

But Senator JV Ejercito said Zubiri’s consultative leadership style was his strength.

“He consults everybody, so I think everybody is satisfied with his leadership. His firm stand — especially during these trying times — he has really stood by everyone and protected the institution,” Ejercito said.

Senator Loren Legarda said: “We have our full support behind the leadership of the Senate President.”

Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said he has not heard anything about a change in Senate leadership.

“Nothing. Is there someone sowing chaos? We’re all solidly behind our inspirational leader, our Senate President Migz Zubiri,” Villanueva said.

Senator Sonny Angara said the ouster plot likely came from outside the Upper Chamber.

“I was not approached. And in case there is such a move, I don’t think it will succeed,” he said.

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