Francis Escudero takes oath as Senate President

MANILA. Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero takes oath as the new Senate President on Monday, May 20, 2024.
MANILA. Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero takes oath as the new Senate President on Monday, May 20, 2024. Screenshot from Senate of the Philippines Facebook Live

SENATOR Francis “Chiz” Escudero assumed on Monday, May 20, 2024, the Senate President post following the resignation of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Together with his wife, actress and fashion icon Heart Evangelista, Escudero took his oath, which was administered by Senator Mark Villar, Monday afternoon.

Senator Alan Peter Cayetano nominated Escudero to the post. No one objected.

In his short assumption speech, Escudero committed that there will be no division in the upper chamber following the sudden change of leadership.

"Walang my team, walang your team para sa akin. Walang SP Migz, wala ring Chiz para sa akin. Ang tingin ko sa bawat isa sa atin ay mga miyembro ng nag-iisang Senado," Escudero said.

(No my team, no your team for me. No SP Migz, no Chiz for me either. I think of each of us as members of the same Senate.)

"At kung may kulay man tayong dadalhin, para sa akin, ang mga kulay na 'yan ay dapat sumasagisag as bandila ng Pilipinas na nagkataon lamang na nasa likod at nasa harap natin ngayon," he added.

(And if we bring any colors, for me, those colors should represent the Philippine flag that happens to be behind and in front of us right now.)

He expressed gratitude to Zubiri for his patience, diligence and love for the country.

"My hats off to you, Senate President Zubiri. I salute you and I hope I will make you proud. You especially among all our other colleagues and hopefully, you will not leave my side whenever I ask for guidance, whenever I ask for help and whenever I ask for your wisdom," he said.

"Mas malayo po at mas marami kayong alam sa akin lalo na bilang taga pangulo ng Senado," Escudero added.

(You know more and more than me, especially as the president of the Senate.)

In his remarks, Zubiri was emotional, saying that he was “heartbroken” as he stepped down from his post and embarked as an independent member of the Senate.

"I have never dictated my position to any of you, and I always supported your independence -- which is probably why I face my demise today. I failed to follow instructions from the powers that be," he said.

Zubiri reiterated that under his leadership, the autonomy of the Senate was maintained despite the current political noise in the country.

"We have been a staunchly independent Senate. Let me say that again, we have been a staunchly independent Senate holding strong against all threats against our institution, and against threats to the very foundation of democracy on which our nation is built," he said.

"I have put myself on the line to shield the Senate from all attacks, particularly from efforts to diminish the powers of this institution as the country’s last bastion of democracy...God knows what I had to do to defend the Senate," he added.

Zubiri’s allies, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Majority Leader Senator Joel Villanueva, Senate Committee on Tourism, Accounts and Ethics chairperson Nancy Binay, Committee on Finance and Sub-committee on Constitutional Amendment chairman Senator Sonny Angara, and Senate deputy majority leader JV Ejercito also resigned from their post as a courtesy to Escudero’s leadership.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada was named as the new Senate President Pro Tempore, while Senator Francis Tolentino will replace Villanueva and will also serve as the concurrent chairman of the upper chamber’s committee on rules.

Cayetano will take the helm of the Senate Committee on Accounts, replacing Binay.

The resignation of Zubiri is allegedly due to his failure to call off the ongoing investigation of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs on the alleged leak of confidential documents from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) that links President Ferdinand Marcos and veteran actress Maricel Soriano, among others, to illegal drug use back in 2012.

In the inquiry, former PDEA agent Jonathan Morales maintained that the leaked documents that name Marcos and Soriano as targets for an anti-drug operation were legitimate.

Morales’ claims, however, were denied by the PDEA, saying that such documents do not exist in their database.

Zubiri also allegedly failed to pass the priority measures of the Marcos administration, including that one that calls for charter change. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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