MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Francis Escudero quit as chairman of the Senate finance committee on Tuesday, July 28, the same day Malacañang was to submit to Congress the proposed national budget for 2016.
Citing “delicadeza,” the senator, who earlier said he might seek higher office next year, also resigned as co-chairman of the joint congressional oversight committee on public expenditures.
Escudero will, however, remain with the majority bloc.
"Ang rason na 'binigay ko sa kanya ay delicadeza, dahil seryosong pinag-iisipan ko [ang] pagtakbo sa 2016. Ayokong mabahiran ng anumang alegasyon o ng anumang pasaring na 'yung budget ay nagagamit o ginagamit sa particular interes sa pulitika o partisan politcs," Escudero told reporters about his resignation letter, which he submitted and was accepted by Senate President Franklin Drilon on Tuesday morning.
(The reason I gave him is propriety, because I am seriously considering running in 2016. I don't want the 2016 budget to be tainted with any allegations of partisan politics.")
Drilon, for his part, said Escudero's voluntary resignation is "certainly commendable."
The Senate finance committee is one of the powerful committees in Congress, as it determines allocations in the national budget.
Senators Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe shared the sentiment. When asked if Escudero's resignation is necessary, Villar said the committee is "too powerful."
"The finance committee is difficult because all people go to you for their budget and sometimes it's too difficult," Villar said in Filipino.
Poe, friend and ally of Escudero, said Escudero did the right move. The two are said to be a formidable tandem in 2016, with talks of Poe running for the presidency and Escudero's public announcement of his willingness to be Poe's runningmate.
"I think that’s really his personal decision. If he asked for my advice, I'd probably say the same thing. Masyadong fragile at sensitibo pag ang pinaguusapan ay pera ng bayan, pwede ka masabihan na ginagamit mo sa sariling interes kaya tama ang ginawa ni Senator Chiz," Poe said in an ambush interview.
(I think that’s really his personal decision. If he asked for my advice, I'd probably say the same thing. The topic of public funds is too fragile and sensitive. You can be accused of using it for personal gains. Sen Chiz [Escudero] did the right thing.)
Poe said Escudero's decision is a personal one and does not influence his decision for 2016.
Despite his resignation, Escudero said he would still be with the majority bloc in the Senate. After all, he said, what he did was in line with President Benigno Aquino III’s Daang Matuwid (Straight Path) campaign.
Malacañang saw no problem with Escudero’s resignation.
Aquino and Escudero are long-time friends and political allies. Escudero supported Aquino’s presidential campaign in 2010 and ran for re-election under the administration's Team PNoy banner in 2013.
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr, in a text message, said Malacañang officials “respect” the senator’s decision.
There are talks Escudero will be the running mate of Senator Grace Poe, who is leading in national presidential preference surveys.
Escudero and Poe met with the President twice in the past weeks, but no decision has been reached on a possible tandem under the Liberal Party's banner. Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II is the presumed standard-bearer of the ruling party. – Rappler.com