Senators on Monday, 25 July installed Senator Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri as the 24th Senate President of the 19th Congress, a move that did not shock the public as the latter was expected to clinch the position as early as June.,Zubiri, who earned the support of the majority, was nominated by Senator Joel Villanueva, shortly after the 19th Congress officially opened its first regular session.,Villanueva described Zubiri, who has a campaign slogan “Trabahador sa Senado,” as “ripe” for the Senate Presidency.,“He served in both houses of Congress for almost two decades, mentored by the Senators who came before us like Senators Miriam Defensor Santiago, Edgardo Angara, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., and Joker Arroyo. In the previous Congress, he was part of the leadership team of the Senate consisting of Senate President Tito Sotto, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, and Minority Leader Frank Drilon,” he said.,“Indeed, there is an appointed time for everything. God’s timing is always perfect, never too early, and never too late. The ‘Trabahador ng Senado’ is now ripe for the Senate Presidency! Like our saying in Bulacan, ‘A ripened fruit tastes sweet,’” he added.,Senator Grace Poe, a member of the majority bloc, also nominated Zubiri as Senate President of the 19th Congress. She branded Zubiri as a real “Trabahador ng Senado,” who recorded a perfect attendance and the most charming gentleman of this current wave of statesmen.,“He is the founder and chairman emeritus of the committee on charm. He is so great that even former minority leader Frank Drilon, has voted with the majority,” Poe said.,Meanwhile, returning Senator Jinggoy Estrada nominated Zubiri as Senate President, as he took a stroll in the memory lane to praise the latter for his independence.,“On a personal note, he did not join those who hit me during my lowest times. This shows his decency and respect for a fellow public servant. And I thank him for that. A true gentleman. A real and just person,” Estrada said,“He is the Senate President we should have in these times when we are under immense pressure to deliver to the people what they need. He is the Senate President that we want to ensure that this institution will be a true workhorse – efficient, productive in terms of legislating the urgent policies to revive the economy, and truly responsive to the needs of the Filipinos,” he added.,Senators Pia and Alan Peter Cayetano did not participate in the elections of new Senate officials, citing that they remained to be independent.,Opposition Senators Risa Hontiveros, and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III also abstained during the election of Zubiri., ,Other Senate officials,Meanwhile, returning Senator Loren Legarda — the most senior among her colleagues — was installed as Senate President Pro Tempore.,Senator Joel Villanueva, who was initially reported eyeing the Senate Presidency, was elected as Senate Majority Leader.,No one rejected the election of Villanueva, except for neophyte Senator Robinhood “Robin” Padilla, who made a last-minute manifestation that he abstained from voting for Majority Leader., ,Two Minority, Two Independent,Hontiveros, who abstained from voting for Senate Presidency, designated Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III as Minority Leader.,“Sen. Koko is a long-time friend, veteran lawmaker, a former Senate President no less, and I’m sure, will make an excellent Minority Leader,” she said.,Just like his Father, Ka Nene who once served this August hall as Senate President, then as Minority Leader, I’m certain that Sen. Koko will help maintain the independence of the Philippine Senate, an institution crucial to our democracy, an institution we all hold dear. It is also the first time that a father and son served both as SP and Minority Leader,” she added.,Meanwhile, the Cayetano siblings, who did not participate in the elections of Senate officials, announced they will remain independent.,“At this point, I would like to remain independent. I will also not participate or cast my vote on any minority leader. But as I have told the Senate President, he knows my commitment to the amazing work that the Senate will produce. He knows that I will participate and ensure that nothing less than excellent work will come out of this Senate,” Pia said.,Likewise, her brother Alan Peter did not cast his vote during the election, as he would join her sister in the independent bloc.
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