Senators vow support for Zubiri, call coup plot report ‘fake news’

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SENATORS on Wednesday affirmed 100 percent support for Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, calling as “fake news” an online story that said he may lose his post because Malacañang Palace supposedly was unhappy with the slow pace of administration bills in the Senate.

Among those who came out gunning for Zubiri was Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who aired his suspicion that the supposed “plot” may be tied to efforts to fast-track constitutional amendments, where the Senate is seen to play a big role, given the overwhelming majority of proadministration congressmen who have rushed a Resolution of both Houses for a constitutional convention; and are now rushing the accompanying bill for a law to authorize creation and funding for a Con-con.

Senators Grace Poe and Nancy Binay also readily declared support for Zubiri, dismissing talks of a leadership coup plot, and flatly saying the report has “no basis.”

In a radio interview, Gatchalian called 100 percent fake news the report that Zubiri has lost the support of majority in the chamber.

If accomplishments are the basis for assessing a Senate President, the senators said Zubiri is up to par, having successfully pushed in record speed the national budget for 2023.

Moreover, they also noted Zubiri’s successful defense against critics of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership or RCEP, the biggest trade agreement in the world which the Philippines has joined.

On Wednesday, Zubiri explained that RCEP was stalled in the Senate because the chief sponsor had become cool to the accord, amid a groundswell of protests from local producers fearing a flood of imports.

Meanwhile, Zubiri was also credited with securing speedy approval of the bill to ensure a learning recovery program for millions of students impacted by the pandemic.

In Gatchalian’s view, the talks being floated that Zubiri would be ousted is linked to the revived plot to amend the Constitution, which will require the Senate participation to push through. The House this week overwhelmingly voted to approve on third and final reading Resolution of Both House No. 6 (RBH 6), despite an argument by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman that doing so sans Senate participation is illegal.

Late Tuesday, the House also approved on second reading the bill accompanying RBH 6, to pave the way for a law covering the creation, election and funding of a constitutional convention, one of three modes for Charter change allowed in the 1987 Constitution.