MANILA, Philippines - The resignation of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri has left some questions among his colleagues and legal pundits after Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said he would first study whether to accept the resignation.
In an interview with dzMM, Enrile insisted senators have yet to discuss and study the implication of Zubiri’s resignation considering that this is the first in Philippine history.
For Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero, however, Zubiri has already technically resigned. “By operation of law, if someone resigns, effective na yan. Ni hindi kailangang tanggapin ng Senado yan.”
While it is a new case, foreign jurisprudence such as in the United States, also dictate the same, he said.
He said the only job of the Senate is to inform the House of Representatives and the executive department about it. A manifestation must also be filed before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), where the electoral protest by lawyer Aquilino Pimentel III is lodged.
Escudero is a former member of the SET and was once involved in the same election case.
Asked why Enrile would insist on studying the incident first, Escudero only said: “He said this is the first time in his 87 years on this earth that he has heard of such. If we reach that age, we also need to be prudent since any action will become precedent-setting…but we have researched this thoroughly. There are cases in the United States.”
There have been incidents in the past that senators had to leave their posts: Raul Manglapus became Foreign Affairs Secretary, Alfredo Lim became Manila mayor, Teofisto Guingona became Vice President, and Benigno Aquino III became President.
In these cases, they were “automatically deemed resigned” because they accepted an executive post, Escudero said.
He said only one thing is sure: Pimentel can’t automatically get the position vacated by Zubiri.
“The Senate can’t decide on that, not even the Comelec. It is only the SET,” he added.
Now that Zubiri has resigned, the case before the SET will start to roll.
He said if Zubiri manifests before the SET his resignation and eventual withdrawal of counter-protest, it will take at most a month before the “real” winner is proclaimed.