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Senate shakeup: Chiz in, Migz out

CHANGING OF THE GUARD. Senate President Miguel Zubiri, left photo, steps down and is succeeded by Senator Chiz Escudero after a majority of the upper house signed a resolution expressing their loss of confidence in his leadership.
Macon Ramos-Araneta & Maricel Cruz

15 senators vote to oust Zubiri;

5 of 7 allies resign from their posts

Several months of brewing talks of a coup attempt in the Upper House ended with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri relinquishing his post to Senator Francis Escudero.

There was no objection on the Senate floor when Senator Alan Peter Cayetano nominated Escudero.

Escudero, accompanied by his wife Heart Evangelista, immediately took his oath that was administered by Senator Mark Villar.

Seven senators sided with Zubiri—five of whom also resigned from their posts: Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Senator Nancy Binay as chairperson of the committee on tourism, Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito as chairman of the committees on Local Government and Urban Planning, Housing and Resettlement, and Senator Juan Edgardo Angara as chairman of the finance committee.

Senators Ronald Dela Rosa and Sherwin Gatchalian also did not vote to have Zubiri replaced.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada replaced Legarda as Senate President Pro Tempore while Senator Francis Tolentino also took his oath as the new Senate Majority Leader, replacing Villanueva.

“I failed to follow instructions from the powers that be. As simple as that,” Zubiri said in describing his political “demise.”

Outgoing Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri addresses questions from reporters following the announcement of major leadership change in the Upper Chamber. With him are Senators Joel Villanueva and Juan Edgardo Angara. (Photo by Macon Ramos-Araneta)

He said issues on the Charter change as well as the hearing on the so-called PDEA leaks were among the triggering factors, which cost him the Senate presidency.

“Of course, I’m heartbroken. I am not an opponent of the powers that lead,” he said.

In an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN Monday evening, Zubiri lamented how people who he thought were his friends deserted and betrayed him.

“I really feel awful that people I considered friends, whom I did favors for, deserted me in this situation,” he said.

“But of course, we are not a cry baby. We are seasoned politician and we will move forward,” Zubiri said.

Zubiri said he allowed the investigation of the alleged leaked documents from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to continue even if there were pressures to stop the investigation.

“We adhere to rules and traditions of the Senate. We do not have the power to dictate on our colleagues. In fact, I was caught in the middle,” Zubiri said.

“I stand proud that I defended this institution… under all the attacks,” he added.

Escudero, for his part, assured that under his watch, the Senate will remain an independent institution.

“My hats off to you Senate President Zubiri. I salute you, and I hope I will make you proud. You especially among our other colleagues and hopefully you will not leave my side whenever I ask you for guidance, whenever I ask for help, and whenever I ask for your wisdom,” Escudero said.

Editor’s Note: This is an updated article. Originally posted with the headline “Zubiri quits Senate presidency, Escudero steps in.”

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