Marcos Jr. hosts dinner for Chiz, other senators after shakeup

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Marcos Jr. hosts dinner for Chiz, other senators after shakeup
Photo posted on Instagram by First Lady Liza Marcos shows President Marcos hosting a dinner with Senate President Francis Escudero and several senators with their spouses at Malacañang on Tuesday, a day after Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri’s ouster.

MANILA, Philippines — President Marcos met with newly elected Senate President Francis Escudero and other senators over dinner on Tuesday, a day after a shakeup in the Senate leadership.

Escudero replaced Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, who stepped down on Monday due to his “failure to follow instructions from the powers that be.”

First Lady Liza Marcos posted a photo of their dinner on her Instagram account yesterday. “Had a nice time breaking bread with the senators and their spouses,” she declared.

Escudero maintained that the dinner had nothing to do with Zubiri’s ouster, noting that Tuesday’s social dinner was the third time the Palace had hosted such a gathering.

“The Palace made the invitation three weeks ago and had nothing to do with the Senate change of leadership. In fact, I was not able to join in the first two dinners. But since the invitation was for the senators, as the new Senate President, I have to attend,” Escudero told Senate reporters.

While the dinner was supposed to be purely social, Escudero said Sen. Cynthia Villar managed to discuss with Marcos the amendment of the Rice Tariffication Law.

Escudero said even the President indicated that he did not know about the Senate leadership change and he only found out about it after arriving from a trip to Dumaguete.

Present during the meeting at Malacañang were Escudero, Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada, majority leader Francis Tolentino, Senators Robin Padilla, Alan Cayetano, Raffy Tulfo, Sherwin Gatchalian, Mark Villar, Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda, Pia Cayetano and Grace Poe.

Also present at the get-together were the senators’ spouses, including Escudero’s wife, actress Heart Evangelista.

Senators Aquilino Pimentel III and Bong Revilla were not among those photographed, but were represented by their wives Kathryna Yu-Pimentel and Cavite Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, respectively.

The picture was posted on the First Lady’s Instagram account earlier in the day but was later deleted. It was reposted around noon.

In her initial post, Liza captioned the photo, “Had a nice time with our senators and their spouses,” which was followed by a Philippine flag emoji.

“Hope to see you guys again in August,” she said.

Zubiri, Senators Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, Lito Lapid, Ronald dela Rosa, Bong Go, Risa Honteveros, Joel Villanueva and Marcos’ sister Imee Marcos were not among those photographed.

Zubiri’s resignation reportedly came after he learned that a group of senators had mustered more than 13 votes to replace him.

“You know that we are probably not against the powers that be, but because we were not following instructions, we are the casualty,” Zubiri told reporters on Monday.

There were insinuations that one of the alleged reasons for the revamp was the Senate’s hearing on the leaked Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency document linking Marcos to illegal drugs.

The probe is being headed by Dela Rosa, chairman of the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs.

Dela Rosa on Tuesday admitted voting for Escudero and apologized to Zubiri.

Migz gets economic affairs committee

Zubiri has been elected chair of the Senate committee on economic affairs, replacing Sen. Mark Villar.

Villar is the new chair of the Senate committee on government corporations and public enterprises.

Sen. Alan Cayetano is the new chair of the Senate committee on trade and industry and the higher, technical and vocational education committee.

Sen. Pia Cayetano will head the energy committee and Poe will head the finance committee.

Angara will head the justice and human rights committee.

Binay will head the sustainable development goals, innovation and futures thinking committee.

Ejercito was reelected chair of the local government committee.

Villanueva is now head of the labor, employment and human resources development committee.

Tulfo is the new chair of the committee on public services.

Lapid now heads the tourism committee.

Sen. Imee Marcos is the new chair of the urban planning, housing and resettlement committee.

Other panels not mentioned will remain with the same chairpersons.

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