De Lima, Trillanes share views on Senate leadership change

De Lima, Trillanes share views on Senate leadership change

/ 11:35 PM May 21, 2024

Former Senators Leila De Lima (L) and Antonio Trillanes IV. —file photos

MANILA. Philippines — Former Senators Leila de Lima and Sonny Trillanes IV exchanged views on Tuesday about the sudden change in the Senate’s leadership.

De Lima and Trillanes took to X (formerly Twitter) their sentiments about the seismic shakeup in the upper chamber.  For her part, De Lima lamented how the Senate leadership changes just because it cannot “cater enough” to the Palace.


READ: Senators weep as Senate President Zubiri delivers his valedictory speech


“The reality of our politics is such that despite a bicameral Congress theoretically independent of Malacañang, the Senate President, a senator, and the Senate can only go so far in not doing Malacañang’s bidding,” said de Lima, retweeting an INQUIRER article detailing that newly-instated Senate President Francis “Chiz” Escudero will replace Juan Miguel Zubiri.

According to her, she experienced being stripped of her committee chairmanship when she was still a senator just because she investigated the extrajudicial killings supposedly linked to former President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal drug campaign.

De Lima, a staunch Duterte critic, was imprisoned and “severely vilified.”

READ: De Lima to Duterte: ‘It’s reckoning time’

“That was of course far worse than a mere leadership ouster, but the issue remains to be the independence of the Senate and the senators’ willingness to fiscalize the Executive Branch,” she said.

‘Not a good thing’

“As such, Malacañang getting its way every time with the Senate is not a good thing as it goes against the very principles of checks and balance and separation of powers,” she added.


De Lima noted that the Senate, at some point, needs to defend its independence from the Palace.

But Trillanes disagreed.

Contrary to de Lima’s sentiments, Trillanes argued that Senate leadership changes “are all about personal relationships between the prospective Senate President and the senators.”

“The motivations of individual Senators may vary as to why they would support a prospective SP, which may or may not be related to Malacañang affiliations. Case in point, in 2016, you and the other LP Senators joined the majority to support then Malacañang affiliated SP Koko Pimentel, while Sen. Chiz, Sen. Recto and myself formed the then minority. With that as an example, I don’t think you joined the majority because you kowtowed to the wishes of Malacañang, right?,” said Trillanes.

Personal experience

Also citing his personal experience, Trillanes said in 2018, all 24 senators did not allow the Philippine National Police to arrest him without a warrant.

READ: Senators back Sotto’s stand on Trillanes’ arrest

“In other words, under the leadership of then Senate President Sotto, all the senators defied Duterte’s warrantless arrest against me, yet he was not replaced as Senate President. That was truly a demonstration of [the] strength of the Senate as a democratic institution that was under siege by a wannabe strongman,” he emphasized.

Trillanes then asked the public to “suspend judgment” against Escudero, noting that the new Senate chief is “independent minded.”

“He used to be a close ally of [former President Benigno S. Aquino III], he was never rabidly pro-Duterte and he even openly campaigned for [Leni Robredo] in 2022. In short, let’s suspend judgment for a moment,” said Trillanes.

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri officially stepped down from his post on Monday, giving up his Senate presidency. Escudero, just minutes after Zubiri resigned, was immediately elected.

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On the same day, Escudero took his oath as the 25th Senate President of the Philippines.

TAGS: Antonio Trillanes IV, De Lima, Senate coup

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