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EDITORIAL: Tearful Departure

THE Senate floor, usually a place of rigorous debate and legislative maneuverings, was transformed into a venue of shared sentiments and visible tears when Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri announced his resignation on May 20, 2024.

Zubiri’s valedictory speech was a poignant moment, marked by his own tears and those of his colleagues. His farewell message was a proof to the strong bonds and camaraderie forged within the Senate, highlighting the personal connections that underpin political alliances.

Senators Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Nancy Binay, Sonny Angara, Joel Villanueva, and JV Ejercito all visibly shared in the emotional moment, underscoring the respect and affection Zubiri had garnered during his tenure.

“Today, I offer my resignation as Senate President, and upon stepping down, I vow to serve as an independent member of the Senate — my allegiance, as ever, belonging to no one but the people,” Zubiri declared.

His words resonated with the underlying tensions that led to his departure, hinting at the political pressures and rumored ouster plots that had dogged his leadership.

Zubiri’s speech was filled with heartfelt acknowledgments to his colleagues. He praised Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda for her loyalty and wisdom, appreciated Villanueva for his hard work and friendship, and expressed deep gratitude to Angara, whom he regarded as the best finance chair the institution has ever had.

His voice broke when thanking Ejercito for his loyalty and hard work, and he shared a particularly emotional moment with Binay, who was already in tears.

The departure of Zubiri triggered a cascade of resignations among his close allies, including Legarda, Villanueva, Ejercito, and Binay. Their actions spoke volumes about the solidarity and mutual respect within their group, further highlighting the impact of Zubiri’s leadership.

Stepping into the role of Senate President, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, nominated by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, took his oath with the promise to uphold the integrity and independence of the Senate.

In his inaugural speech, Escudero lauded Zubiri for his wisdom, patience, and unwavering dedication to the country and its institutions. His words were not just an acknowledgment of Zubiri’s contributions but also a call for continuity in serving the nation’s best interests.

Zubiri’s resignation, ostensibly for “failing to follow instructions from the powers that be,” was a blatant reminder of the complex interplay between political principles and power dynamics. His assertion, “I fought the good fight. If I have ruffled some feathers in doing so, if I have upset the powers that be, then so be it,” encapsulated his defiance and commitment to the Senate’s autonomy.

Despite the speculations surrounding his departure, including possible links to the probe into leaked Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency documents, Zubiri remained steadfast in his belief that he did what was right for the Senate and the nation.

His decision to continue serving as an independent senator reflects his enduring commitment to public service, free from external pressures.

The leadership change in the Senate, amid talks of low legislative output and differing stances on constitutional amendments, marks a significant shift in the political landscape. Zubiri’s tenure was marked by both support and controversy, but his departure underscores the transient nature of political power and the enduring importance of integrity and service.

As the Senate moves forward under Escudero’s leadership, the emotional farewell to Zubiri serves as a powerful reminder of the human element in governance.

It is a call to remember that behind every policy and every debate, there are individuals dedicated to the betterment of their country, often at great personal cost. Zubiri’s legacy will be remembered not just for his legislative achievements but for the profound connections and respect he cultivated within the hallowed halls of the Senate.


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