Senate's emotional change of leadership

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

Whoever wishes to enter politics should learn a lesson or two from the most recent shakeup in the Philippine Senate. It had elements of drama, and as the plot thickened, those unfamiliar with politics could only shake their heads.

One of the intriguing aspects of Sen. Migz Zubiri's removal as Senate president --now replaced with Sen. Chiz Escudero-- is the role of Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa.

Of course, you must be completely naïve to remove Malacañang from the picture. Whoever sits as the president of this country would always try to influence the two houses of Congress in the area of leadership. That's plain as day.

It was a twist that caught everyone, especially Zubiri, off guard. Dela Rosa, who had been perceived as being on Zubiri's side, was seen on national television shedding tears during Zubiri's emotional privilege speech. Yet, it was Dela Rosa who, unexpectedly, became the 15th senator to sign the petition to oust Zubiri.

Many believed that one of the reasons why Zubiri was removed was because he allowed Dela Rosa to investigate PDEA leak, which allegedly linked President Bongbong Marcos to drugs. Many speculate that on Malacañang’s part, it was the last straw that broke the camel's back. Another reason cited is that Zubiri has done nothing to push for the move to amend the Constitution through the Peoples Initiative.

In other words, Zubiri took the bullets for Dela Rosa. The latter did not return the favor.

One would think that Zubiri, being a veteran politician, would treat his removal as just another day for any politician and that he has long ago come to terms with the possibility that he would be removed anytime. But he is just a human being who also feels the sting of betrayal or what he feels to be a betrayal.

“Alam mo. I thought I’ve seen strange things in my political career, and this happens to be the strangest,” he was quoted as saying, adding, “kung kahapon ako po ay heartbroken; ngayon po ako dumbfounded.”

Dela Rosa, on the other hand, gave a justification for his action. He said, “Among us tatlo magka-batch na PDP senators, we forged a covenant na majority wins in every voting situation.” All for one, one for all.

He apologized to Zubiri for failing to convince his fellow PDP senators. “Gusto ko sabihin kay Migz doon, is ‘sorry boss, I failed to win the war for you’.”

Dela Rosa also said that his signature was insignificant because the required number had already been obtained to remove Zubiri. But if his signature was insignificant, why did he affix it in the first place?

What will happen next? Will Chiz Escudero bow down to the whims and caprices of Malacañang, and up to what extent? We don’t know. All we can do is look at the history of the Philippine Senate. In my view, to a respectable degree and on many occasions, the Senate has shown independence from Malacañang. It has generally been its mark, and that fact becomes more punctuated if you compare it with the Lower House.

Each senator is not called a senator of the republic for nothing. Let’s wish for the best under Sen. Escudero's leadership.

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