Chiz Escudero is new Senate president; Miguel Zubiri out

Chiz Escudero is new Senate President

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero, chairperson of the Committee on Higher Education, leads the passage of several local higher education bills on its second reading on Tuesday, September 19, 2023. Escudero was chosen as the new Senate President, replacing Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, on Monday, May 20, 2024. —File photo from the Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero is the new Senate president, replacing Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri.

No one objected on the Senate floor on Monday when Senator Alan Peter Cayetano nominated Escudero to be the next Senate president.

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

In his  speech,  the new Senate chief  was all praises  for his predecessor.

“Nais kong pasalamatan si Senate President Zubiri sa kanyang talino, sa kanyang galing, sa kanyang pasensya, sa kanyang kasipagan, sa kanyang hindi mapagkakailang pagmamahal sa bayan, at gayun din sa institusyong ito, at sa ating mga kababayan,”  Escudero said.

(I want to thank  Senate President Zubiri for his wisdom, patience, diligence,  and undeniable  love for  our country, for this institution, and  for our countrymen)

“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,”  he added.

READ: Zubiri quits as Senate President: ‘I leave with my head held high’

Before this, Zubiri announced his resignation, saying he “failed to follow instructions from the powers that be.”

“I fought the good fight. If I have ruffled some feathers in doing so, if I have upset the powers that be, then so be it,” he said in a privilege speech Monday.

“I did not accept the Senate presidency just to let it go down,” Zubiri also said.

In leaving his post, Zubiri promised to continue serving as an independent member of the Senate.

“I leave with my head held high, knowing I did what is right for the Senate and for the nation,” he said.

Speaking to reporters before the session, Zubiri indicated that he lost his post probably “for not following instructions.”

He did not elaborate, even when asked if the ongoing probe into alleged leaked Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency documents had something to do with his removal as Senate’s top leader.

“That includes everything,” Zubiri simply said.

READ: Villanueva confirms Senate leadership change

In another interview, he said he was saddened by what happened, noting he did everything to protect the Senate’s autonomy.

“But that’s just how politics is. There’s nothing we can do about it,” he said.

The change in leadership happened Monday after several talks of an ouster plot against Zubiri since heading the Senate in July 2022.

Zubiri dismissed a coup rumor against him, which first floated in March 2023 — or barely a year after he was elected Senate president.

This was supposedly because of the low output of the chamber under his watch and his stand on Charter change (Cha-cha).

Just months after, Zubiri’s allies in the Senate had to openly express their support for his leadership after another talk of an alleged move to remove him in June 2023.

Zubiri’s leadership was again confronted with another ouster rumor early this year. This time, however, a colleague – Sen. Imee Marcos – confirmed it.

“Yes, there’s a lot of pressure to change Migz Zubiri,” Marcos said then.

But this move fizzled out after majority of senators signed a statement of support for Zubiri.