Zubiri dismisses ouster talk as ‘tabloid gossip rubbish’
MANILA, Philippines — Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri downplayed a report about an ouster plot against him amid Malacañang’s supposed displeasure over the chamber’s “underperformance” as his allies also denied that senators were disgruntled with his leadership.
“That article is a figment of someone’s boredom and in their between lucid intervals. There has been no talk of leadership changes as well as any warnings from anyone on the low output of the Senate,” Zubiri said in a statement on Wednesday.
An online media report earlier claimed he was on the brink of losing his post for his supposed failure to push for the Marcos administration’s key legislative priorities, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP) trade agreement.
Zubiri said that he was forced to shepherd the RCEP ratification even though it was opposed by several senators, including Sen. Imee Marcos, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which was tasked to handle the measure.
Improving draft legislation
“That has never been done before where the Senate President himself will be subject to sponsorship and interpellation, after which we approved and ratified it in three days with the highest ever vote count for a treaty at 20 affirmative votes and only one against with one abstention,” he added. “Does that not show real leadership in this institution?”
He referred to talk about his ouster as “nothing but tabloid gossip rubbish” as he explained the reason behind the delays that confronted some of the administration’s priority bills.
“First of all, the Senate carefully studies each and every measure as we debate on this thoroughly to improve every draft legislation. With due respect, we are not a rubber stamp institution,” Zubiri said.
But he expressed readiness to step down should any attempt to effect a change in the Senate leadership be supported by 13 of his colleagues.
Support from other senators
“As far as I’m concerned, my style of consensus-building leadership where we involve all members of the Senate in discussing issues and bills is what I feel is ideal for this institution,” he said.
Zubiri received expressions of support from Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, and Senators Grace Poe, Sonny Angara, Sherwin Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito and Christopher “Bong” Go.
“(Zubiri) has very good leadership skills, is well loved by his colleagues and the Senate employees, is a consensus builder, and has a clear, full grasp of both national issues and that of the everyday man. He has our full support,” Legarda said.
For Villanueva, the ouster report was “baseless, preposterous and malicious.”
“The news article is obviously a desperate and pathetic move to destroy not only the reputation of (Zubiri) but also to destabilize the integrity of the Senate as an institution,” he said.Angara said that while the Senate may be perceived as slow in its passage of priority measures, he was confident that they would pick up speed in the second year.
“(The present Senate leaders) should be given a chance as it is way too early to pass judgment,” he said.
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