17 senators now sign statement of support for Zubiri

(INQUIRER) MANILA, Philippines — Three more senators have signed a statement affirming support for Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, a development that strengthens his leadership amid alleged moves by outside forces to oust him.

On Wednesday, Zubiri announced that Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla  Jr., Robin Padilla, and  Jinggoy Estrada had declared allegiance to him.

“There are more that signed. Nadagdagan po, additional three senators,” he said in a press briefing at the Senate.

“I’d like to thank Senator Bong Revilla, Senator Robinhood Padilla, and Senator Jinggoy Estrada also signed, together with the original 14 that had signed,” he said.

The 14 are Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Senators Sherwin Gatchalian, Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito, Grace Poe, Nancy Binay, Lito Lapid, Raffy Tulfo, Mark Villar, Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Francis Tolentino, Christopher “Bong” Go, and Zubiri himself.

The remaining two belong to the opposition bloc — Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Risa Hontiveros.

But Zubiri said he expects more colleagues to continue supporting his presidency, noting that some are just out of the country.

Estrada’s name was earlier rumored to replace Zubiri if an alleged attempt to change the Senate leadership succeeded. But Estrada already denied this.

“To quell all speculations, there’s no truth to it,” he said in an interview with Senate reporters on  Monday.

It was Senator Imee Marcos who confirmed the foiled attempt to change Zubiri’s leadership.

“Oo (Yes), there’s a lot of pressure to change Migz Zubiri,” Marcos said in a separate interview, also on Monday.

“It’s all coming from outside the Senate, not within the Senate. So strange,” she added.

Pressed about the alleged ouster attempt, Zubiri opted to remain silent.

“I don’t want to dwell on that, I don’t want to comment on that kasi mukhang in-address naman natin yung mga concerns nila and I think that’s the most important, these concerns,” he said.

(I don’t want to dwell on that; I don’t want to comment on that because it seems that we’ve already addressed their concerns, and I think that’s the most important thing—addressing these concerns.)

He did not elaborate on his colleagues’ concerns but noted the “stress” that caused them in the last months because of the controversial people’s initiative for Charter change.

At that time, he said, the Senate was “under threat.”

Zubiri promised to do more consultations and caucuses at least every week to act on his colleagues’ concerns immediately.

No senators will also lose their committee posts even after this reported failed attempt to unseat him.