'External forces' behind Zubiri's ouster — Ejercito

Janvic Mateo, Marc Jayson Cayabyab - Philstar.com
'External forces' behind Zubiri's ouster � Ejercito
A photo of Sens. Juan Miguel Zubiri, JV Ejercito and Sherwin Gatchalian during the last day of the second regular session of the Senate on May 23, 2024.
Facebook / Senator Migz Zubiri

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. JV Ejercito lamented the decision of 14 senators to replace Juan Miguel Zubiri with Francis "Chiz" Escudero as Senate chief, despite the Mindanao senator being loyal to and supporting the common executive-legislative agenda of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“That’s the sad part about it – having that good performance, keeping the Senate’s integrity, and fighting for its independence, cost us our jobs,” Ejercito said.

Seeing no reason for their colleagues to instigate the leadership change, Ejercito said that “external forces” may have had a hand in the removal of Zubiri.

“There was no scandal, no corruption issues. Everybody was satisfied,” he said, referring to Zubiri’s leadership. “I would say that there was an external factor that really caused him to step down from the Senate presidency.”

Ejercito, who resigned as deputy majority leader, admitted that he felt bad over what happened.

“To all our colleagues… Senate president Migz Zubiri did not do anything wrong against any of you. He granted all your wishes and requests. He allowed us to handle our own chairmanships,” he said.

“The (Senate’s) independence has to be upheld at all times. For some to change their support, I believe that they have a different intention. I think there are external forces that moved to have this leadership changed,” he added.

Ejercito did not provide additional details regarding these supposed external factors, but he noted that rumors of a leadership change started early this year amid issues regarding the people’s initiative to change the Constitution.

He also cited the Senate committee on public order and dangerous drugs hearing on the alleged “PDEA leaks,” which linked Marcos to illegal drugs.

Meanwhile, Escudero vowed to be a Senate leader who would bridge the differences among the senators, seen as 24 different “republics” because of their nationally elected mandate.

Escudero said he will serve as a bridge to mend severed ties, and apologized to the people he hurt in the power grab.

The Bicolano senator had denied rumors he mustered the majority support of 14 senators to wrest the Senate presidency from Zubiri with the help of Speaker Martin Romualdez and First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos.

Escudero also said that discussions on the amendment of the 1987 Constitution have yet to be begin under his leadership. — Cecille Suerte Felipe

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