Zubiri is new Senate president

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Migz Subiri
Sens. Loren Legarda and Sonny Angara administer the oath of office of new Senate President Miguel Zubiri. The oath-taking ceremony was witnessed by Zubiri's wife, Audrey Tan Zubiri, Zubiri's Mother Maria Victoria Ocampo Fernandez, and their children and was held at the Plenary Hall of the Senate in Pasay City on Monday, July 25, 2022.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 10:52 p.m.) — It’s official: Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri is the next Senate president.

Already the acting as Senate president, Zubiri was voted in by his colleagues Monday morning at the Senate’s first session ahead of the first State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Zubiri is elected Senate President by acclamation. No other candidates for the post were nominated, and no objections to his election were raised after six different senators nominated him.

The position of Senate president, second in the presidential line of succession after the vice president, has historically gone to majority leaders in the higher chamber. And as majority leader, Zubiri has long been known as a consensus-builder who was well-versed in the ins and outs of the Senate.

Gatchalian, who also backed Zubiri for Senate Majority Leader in 2018, also nominated the latter for Senate President this time around, saying Zubiri surpassed expectations.

"Zubiri set the tone and led this chamber towards accomplishing the agenda of the people even amidst the pandemic," Gatchalian said in his lengthy praise of the young lawmaker which lasted nearly ten minutes, pointing to the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

Sen. Loren Legarda also nominated Zubiri for the Senate's top post, calling him a "dynamic and forward-looking" leader.

Sens. Jinggoy Estrada, JV Ejercito, Grace Poe, and Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa also lauded Zubiri's ability to bring conflicting stances together to enact laws in their individual nominations of him.

Dela Rosa's own nomination is significant as he was a staunch ally of Villar in the Senate president race earlier on. The former PNP chief said earlier that Villar has the “solid backing’ of eight senators including himself.


Sens. Risa Hontiveros and Koko Pimentel abstained from voting for the post but nevertheless congratulated Zubiri on his election as Senate President.

Senator-siblings Alan Peter and Pia Cayetano also manifested separately that they did not join the voting for Zubiri and intended to remain part of the "independent" bloc of the chamber.

The race for the Senate Presidency

A number of names besides Zubiri’s were brought up when the initial jockeying for the position began, including Cynthia Villar, Sherwin Gatchalian, Chiz Escudero, and even Loren Legarda.

But by late May, none of the contenders had secured the required 13 votes out of 24 to win the leadership of the upper chamber. Talk of term sharing began eventually, until Villar threw in the towel completely, saying she’d rather live “a simple life” after openly gunning for the position since 2019.  

In late May, Marcos sat down with a number of lawmakers — with those in the Senate led by Zubiri while those in the House were led by presumptive House Speaker Martin Romualdez to discuss his legislative agenda over the next six years.

Though the race was in no way set in stone at the time, it was a show of power over other senators vying for the post on the part of the 52-year-old senator from Bukidnon.

Independence of the Senate?

Zubiri openly campaigned for Marcos, now the sitting chief executive, in this year’s elections and got sacked from former Vice President Leni Robredo’s senatorial slate for doing so.

The former majority leader is said to be forming a supermajority coalition of lawmakers allied with Marcos, and already he insists this alliance won’t be used to railroad legislation favored by the president he endorsed.

“I have one final and earnest appeal to the incoming 19th Congress: Maintain the integrity and independence of the Senate…Do not allow politics to taint your service to the people,” former Senate President and losing vice presidential candidate Vicente Sotto III said in his valedictory speech earlier.

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