How Zubiri’s resignation as Senate President affected Pinoys

May 20, 2024 - 7:30 PM
Juan Miguel Zubiri
Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri steps down from his position as Senate President on May 20, 2024 (Screengrab from Senate of the Philippines)

Speculations were discussed by Filipinos after Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri stepped down as senate president on Monday.

The longtime politician ended his two-year term as the third most powerful official in the government on Monday, saying that he “failed to follow instructions from the powers that be.”

Zubiri, whose term was constantly hounded by coup rumors, said that he had “fought the good fight” while leading the upper chamber.

“If I’ve ruffled some feathers in doing so, then so be it,” he said.

The senator said he had placed himself “on the line to shield the Senate from all attacks” and strived to keep the upper chamber independent despite “threats against our institution.”

“God knows what I had to do to defend the Senate,” Zubiri said in a speech.

He was replaced by Sen. Chiz Escudero, who was nominated by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano minutes after Zubiri stepped down from his position.

Zubiri said he would continue to serve “as an independent member of the Senate.”

“I leave with my head held high, knowing what I did what was right for the Senate,” he said.

The move left many Filipinos to air their own speculations.

Some thought it could signify something that was “about to happen.”

“Something’s about to happen and I don’t think it’s good,” an online user wrote.

“Duda ako. Ano na namang binabalak niyo?” another Pinoy commented.

“Why do I smell another political strategy?” wrote a different X user.

Zubiri’s comments about failing to “follow instructions from the powers that be” also struck a chord in some online users.

“Here we are, witnessing the decay of the separation of powers and checks and balances of the government,” Mindanao Pride executive director Salm Dumanlang wrote.

“Follow instructions from whom? Although interdependent ang [three] branches of our gov’t, dapat separate and sovereign ang bawat branch. Is he saying that the Senate can be dictated upon? Wala talagang kwenta gobyerno natin,” another X user said.

“I’m confused. Sino ang ‘powers that be’ na ‘yan? Is this because of the failed cha-cha attempt?” wondered another Pinoy.

“‘Di mo kasi alam sino susundin mo eh, kung boss mo o taumbayan, LOL,” a different user commented.

Zubiri’s resignation comes after a series of politically charged hearings conducted in the Senate.

The most recent is the Senate Public Order and Dangerous Drugs Committee‘s ongoing investigation of the alleged leaked documents from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) that links President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to illegal drug use.

The panel investigating the alleged classified PDEA documents is chaired by Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, who has defended the committee’s motu proprio investigation of the issue as in aid of legislation and not to attack any individual.

While he did not specifically refer to the PDEA leaks probe, Zubiri cautioned his colleagues last week against turning committee hearings into political persecution.

RELATED: Zubiri steps down as Senate president, says he disobeyed ‘powers that be’

Zubiri led the Senate since the start of the 19th Congress in July 2022.

The Senate President 

The Senate President is regarded as the most powerful figure in the Senate.

He/she is the presiding officer of the Senate, as well as the leader of the majority group.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the Senate President is regarded as third in the line of succession, after the President and Vice President.

The Senate President is also the chief executive of the Senate, who has the power to call the Senate to order, decide all points of order, ensure adherence to all Senate resolutions and have general control over the session hall, among other things.