Tolentino expresses respect for Zubiri amid Marcos-Duterte conflict

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Tolentino expresses respect for Zubiri amid Marcos-Duterte conflict
A photo uploaded on Facebook on May 20, 2024 shows Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri during his last day as the Senate president.
Facebook / Senator Migz Zubiri

MANILA, Philippines — Newly elected Senate majority leader Francis Tolentino said he respected the feelings of former Senate president Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, who said that he was a victim of the growing Marcos-Duterte rift.

“Let’s respect his feelings. Let’s just leave it at that. We want everyone to be in a reconciliatory mode, and we don’t want to add to the heat from what happened,” Tolentino said on Tuesday.

“I cannot comment on that, but we respect the opinions of the former Senate president and we still consider him in high esteem,” he added.

In television interviews on Monday, Zubiri said he had to give way to the new Senate president Francis Escudero because of pressure from the factions of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and of Vice President Sara Duterte.

He said he drew the Marcos camp’s ire for allowing  Sen. Ronald dela Rosa's motu proprio inquiry into an alleged leaked anti-drug operation report that implicated the then senator Marcos in illegal drugs.

Zubiri said he also angered the Duterte camp when he signed the arrest order against Kingdom of Jesus Christ founder Apollo Quiboloy, after Hontiveros cited the fugitive pastor in contempt for snubbing her hearings on alleged sexual abuses in his church.

“I was caught in the middle of the Duterte and Marcos factions. I’m caught in between, but I just did my job, and did it well. This is the consequences of my action,” Zubiri said on TV Patrol on Monday night.

“Why did it have to happen? I’m a loyalist. I am one of those who felt bad about the rift in the UniTeam. I was caught in the middle of the growing fight between the Duterte and Marcos factions. But we move on. We’re politicians. I am not a crybaby,” Zubiri said.

At a separate press briefing on Tuesday, new Senate president pro tempore Jinggoy Estrada said he would rather not fan speculation that Malacañang had a hand in removing Zubiri as Senate president.

“I don’t need to tell the whole story. It’s already water under the bridge. They have nothing to do with the change of leadership here in the Senate,” Estrada said.

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