Senate of the Philippines

Zubiri ‘dumbfounded’ by Dela Rosa’s vote to oust him

Bonz Magsambol

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Zubiri ‘dumbfounded’ by Dela Rosa’s vote to oust him

OUSTED. Senator Miguel Zubiri delivers a privilege speech during a plenary session on May 20, 2024.

Screenshot from Senate of the Ph

'I thought I’ve seen strange things in my political career, and this happens to be the strangest,' says Senator Migz Zubiri, who was ousted as Senate president

MANILA, Philippines – “If yesterday, I was heartbroken; now, I am dumbfounded.”

This was how Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri reacted when he learned that Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, who was emotional when he stepped down as Senate president on Monday, May 20, was in fact one of the 15 senators who signed the resolution for his ouster.

Alam mo (You know), I thought I’ve seen strange things in my political career, and this happens to be the strangest,” Zubiri told reporters on Tuesday, May 21.

In his resignation speech on Monday, Zubiri even thanked Dela Rosa for having stuck it out with him until the end.

Zubiri relinquished the Senate presidency to Senator Chiz Escudero on Monday after 15 of their colleagues backed the latter’s leadership.

Zubiri said defending Dela Rosa had cost him his Senate presidency. “At least alam niya na dinepensahan ko siya bilang isang chairman ng committee, at dahil d’yan nagkaroon po ng sakripisyo. Ako po ay sakripisyo d’yan. Nawala po ako sa position,” he added.

(At least he knows that I defended him as a committee chairman, and because of that, there was a sacrifice. I am the sacrifice. I lost my position.)

At a press briefing on Monday, Zubiri said that, as early as Wednesday, May 15, he was already aware of the supposed ouster plot against him.

He believes it started when he did not agree to the proposed timeline for the approval of charter change, and when he allowed the Senate probe into the so-called Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) leaks, which has remained dubious.

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Zubiri said the Marcos camp was displeased with him for allowing the probe by Dela Rosa’s committee into the PDEA leaks that claimed the supposed involvement of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in illegal drugs. After four hearings, Dela Rosa failed to establish the alleged Marcos drug links. His colleagues, including Escudero, dismissed the allegation as hearsay, while leaders in the House of Representatives earlier questioned why the Senate continued to conduct the probe.

Zubiri had warned Dela Rosa to stop using Senate hearings for political persecution, but failed to stop the probe. Former senator Antonio Trillanes IV claimed that it was former president Rodrigo Duterte who instructed Dela Rosa to conduct hearings on the alleged PDEA leaks.

At a separate press briefing on Tuesday, Dela Rosa admitted that he backed Escudero’s leadership, saying his vote was already “insignificant” anyway since the majority votes were already reached when he was asked to sign.

“Sorry, boss, I failed to win the war for you,” Dela Rosa told Zubiri.

Escudero says he campaigned on his own

Meanwhile, Escudero said he campaigned on his own to be new leader of the Senate, refuting allegations that his election as the third highest government official was influenced by other political forces.

Escudero told Senate reporters that he started campaigning on Thursday, May 16, and finalized his numbers on Sunday night, May 19.

“Sinimulan kong makipag-usap dahil marami naman nang at that time na may mga agam-agam,” Escudero said, when asked if it was accurate to say that he initiated the change in leadership. (I started talking to my colleagues because many of them were already doubtful at that time.)

The new Senate President didn’t respond when he was asked to elaborate on what he meant by doubtful colleagues.

Escudero was able to secure 15 votes to take over the Senate presidency from Zubiri. According to Rappler’s Senate sources, the following senators voted in favor of Escudero’s leadership:

Person, Face, Head

Meanwhile, the following senators stayed with Zubiri, while the two members of the minority bloc abstained in the voting:


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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.