PHILIPPINE senators on Monday elected Senator Francis “Chiz” G. Escudero to replace Senate President Juan Miguel F. Zubiri in a surprise move amid investigations being conducted by the chamber.

Mr. Zubiri announced his resignation and his return to being an independent senator in an emotional privilege speech.

“I fought the good fight,” he told the Senate floor amid coup rumors. “If I have ruffled some feathers in doing so, if I have upset the powers that be, then so be it.”

At a separate news briefing, he said he had heard that 14 other senators were talking amongst themselves to call for him to step down for “not following instructions.”

“If this is the consequence for my being independent, fighting for the institution to be independent, then so be it,” Mr. Zubiri said.

Last week at a Senate public order committee hearing, the ex-Senate president said he was aware of criticisms from supporters of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and ex-President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“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,” he said.

“I leave with my head held high, knowing I did what is right for the Senate and for the nation,” he added.

Mr. Zubiri had led the Senate since 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, Senate Deputy Majority Leader Joseph Victor G. Ejercito and Senate President Pro-Tempore Lorna Regina “Loren” B. Legarda also resigned from their leadership roles to give way for the new Senate leadership.

Senator Francis N. Tolentino was elected Senate majority floor leader, while Senator Jose “Jinggoy” P. Ejercito, Jr. is the new Senate president pro-tempore.

Senator Juan Edgardo M. Angara also resigned from his post as finance committee chairman.

Mr. Zubiri said Ms. Legarda, Mr. Villanueva, Mr. Ejercito, Mr. Angara, Senators Maria Lourdes S. Binay-Angeles, Sherwin T. Gatchalian and Ronald M. dela Rosa had opposed the call for his resignation.

“I hope that this new leadership does not succumb to pressure,” he told reporters in mixed English and Filipino. “Only time will tell, we will see it in the acts of the other senators.”

Mr. Zubiri said the push for constitutional amendments would probably weaken given Mr. Escudero’s stance against easing the Charter’s economic restrictions.

At a separate briefing, the new Senate president said hearings and regional consultations on Charter change would be postponed. 

The Senate would focus on passing the New Government Procurement bill among other priority measures of the Marcos government, he added.

“We will discuss it (Charter change)… but you know my position and I have no plans on changing my position,” Mr. Escudero said. — John Victor D. Ordonez