Chiz behind Migz ouster but denies Palace hand

Escudero behind Zubiri ouster but denies Palace hand

By: - Reporter / @MRamosINQ
/ 05:32 AM May 22, 2024

Chiz behind Migz ouster but denies Palace hand

SECOND DAY ON THE JOB Senate President Francis Escudero presides over the hearing of the Commission on Appointments on Tuesday, a day after he replaced Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri as leader of the Senate. —Richard A. Reyes

MANILA, Philippines — Newly installed Senate President Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Tuesday owned up to instigating the coup that ejected Sen. Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri from the leadership of the chamber but rejected speculations that Malacañang was behind the power grab.

“It was only last Thursday when I asked [my colleagues] and decided [to challenge Zubiri],” Escudero told reporters a day after claiming he had no prior knowledge of the plot against his predecessor.


“It was on Thursday when I started to talk to [my colleagues] so I don’t know how he came to know about it on Wednesday,” he said in response to Zubiri’s claim that he was made aware of the plot to unseat him as early as May 15.


By Sunday night, Escudero said he had already secured the support of at least 12 administration senators, sealing Zubiri’s fate.

He had needed only a simple majority—or at least 13 votes—of the 24 senators to take over the Senate presidency.

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, who was seen weeping as Zubiri delivered his farewell speech on Monday, admitted the next day he was actually the 15th senator to sign the resolution to remove Zubiri.

Zubiri said he was “dumbfounded” at Dela Rosa’s admission.

“I thought of strange things in my political career, and this happens to be the strangest… I am in shock,” the former Senate leader said, adding: “But that’s politics. [There are] no permanent friends, only permanent interests.”

Asked if he convinced his fellow senators to elect him as Zubiri’s successor, Escudero replied in the affirmative.


On Monday, after he was sworn in as the country’s 25th Senate President, Escudero said: “Like in any other election, until the actual voting is finished and you have been proclaimed, the election is not yet over. So I only learned about it after I took my oath.”

According to the 54-year-old senator, he was the one who drafted the resolution pushing for a reorganization in the chamber, which occurred just two days before the 19th Congress was set to go on sine die adjournment.

“When I say I started to talk [with the other senators], it’s because many of us have several concerns [with Zubiri’s leadership],” Escudero said.

He declined to elaborate.

“They have their own reasons. Maybe it’s best to ask those who supported and voted for me. It’s not for me to disclose those things,” he said.

Escudero also played coy when asked about the resolution’s contents, which were not formally introduced on the Senate floor during Monday’s plenary session, saying he’d instead not heighten any animosity among the senators.

The Senate, he said, should now busy itself with “moving forward” instead of recalling stories of “why and how it happened.”

Escudero also parried insinuations that the Palace helped him rise to the government’s third highest elective post following his predecessor’s claim that he was removed after he “ruffled some feathers.”

Shortly after stepping down, Zubiri told reporters he “took the hit” because he “was not following instructions.”

It was also speculated that Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s allies were displeased with Zubiri for allowing the continued hearing of the so-called “PDEA (Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency) leaks” inquiry by the Dela Rosa-led Senate committee on dangerous drugs, which linked the President to a supposedly scuttled anti-illegal drug operation in 2012.

‘Dedicated leader’

But Escudero said it was unfair to suggest he was chosen by his colleagues for being a “sycophant,” noting that he had voted against administration bills, including a tax measure proposed by the Department of Finance.

On Tuesday, President Marcos threw his support behind Escudero’s election.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Marcos praised Escudero’s record as a legislator, saying his commitment to public service made him a “dedicated leader.”

“I extend my support to the new Senate President, Chiz Escudero. His legislative record and commitment to public service have distinguished him as a dedicated leader,” he said.

Marcos also applauded Zubiri for his “commendable tenure” as Senate President.
Escudero and other unnamed senators were set to meet with the President over dinner on Tuesday.

Malacañang did not respond to questions about its alleged role in the move to oust Zubiri.

“I am confident that under [Escudero’s] leadership, the Senate will continue to prioritize transformative laws to achieve our shared vision for a Bagong Pilipinas,” Marcos said.

Flawed system

Escudero’s late father, Salvador “Sonny” Escudero III, a longtime public servant, worked with the President’s late father and namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., serving as the latter’s agriculture minister from 1984 until the fall of the dictatorship in 1986.

For former Senate President Franklin Drilon, Zubiri’s ouster resulted from the country’s flawed political party system.

Speaking to reporters in Iloilo City, the retired senator said he was not surprised by the senators’ move, having seen it happen several times during his career.

“That is, to me, the effect of a lack of a party system… In mature democracies abroad, you will see that the decisions are made on the basis of the political parties’ decisions. Here, there’s nothing like that,” he said.

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“I was there. I was Senate President four times. Some of the times, I was relieved by my colleagues of the post. I accepted it as part of the system. So, I am not surprised,” he added.

TAGS: Chiz Escudero, Juan Miguel Zubiri

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