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Is the ‘Artista’ bloc behind Zubiri’s ouster due to injury dispute?

Marc Jayson Cayabyab – The Philippine Star, May 25, 2024

MANILA, Philippines — The ouster plot against Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri that cost him his Senate presidency has taken an unexpected twist – all due to an action star’s foot.

Talk is rife on social media that what triggered senators’ discontent at Zubiri’s leadership was his refusal to allow virtual attendance for Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr., who is nursing a reopened Achilles tendon wound in his foot.

A video of an undated session day went viral showing that Zubiri and Revilla talked about the latter’s request for virtual attendance, only for the former to turn it down because a foot injury “isn’t as bad as a coma.”

“We’re rules-based,” Zubiri said in the video, prompting Revilla, who was wearing an ankle brace, to literally put his foot down and lament the lack of respect: “Bastusan na tayo dito, eh.”

The STAR could not independently verify the video.

The video started rumors that this incident prompted the “Artista” bloc – composed of Revilla and fellow action stars turned Sens. Lito Lapid, Jinggoy Estrada and Robinhood Padilla – to turn against Zubiri and swing the numbers for new Senate President Francis Escudero, who got 14 senators on his side.

It was Escudero who defended Revilla’s request during the May 14 session, which was later granted by the body against Zubiri’s wishes.

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa fanned speculation that this triggered the ouster plot.

In a GMA News interview on Wednesday, Dela Rosa denied his “PDEA leaks” investigation triggered Malacañang’s discontent with Zubiri, who claimed he was demoted for offending the “powers that be.”

Dela Rosa pointed instead at Zubiri’s stickler-for-the-rules attitude that irked Revilla, who in turn got the sympathy of his fellow actor-senators.

“When Senator Migz denied Revilla’s request, that triggered the ‘artista’ bloc and caused them to harbor ill feelings against him,” Dela Rosa said.

Reducing the ouster plot to a “petty” cause did not sit well with Zubiri’s ally Sen. Nancy Binay, who mocked the tale of Revilla’s “powerful” twisted foot unseating a Senate president.

“It is weird to think that of all conspiracy theories that came out since the Senate coup, a senator’s foot is the trigger why Senator Migz was booted out of his post. The best or worst interest of the nation is just a foot away,” Binay said Friday.

Binay said Escudero’s allies are making Zubiri’s ouster worthy of political drama by painting Revilla’s foot as “more powerful than the powers-that-be.”

“If that is the reason for Senator Migz’s ouster, then we can say they have really put their best foot forward. If a sore foot can inspire such decisive action, just imagine what a fully functioning pair of feet could do,” Binay said. “But for now, the foot has spoken. Let us all unite behind Sen. Bong Revilla’s foot.”

Binay vowed that the “Solid 7” – or those who opposed Zubiri’s ouster – would be formidable whether or not it chooses to be a minority or independent bloc in the Senate.

“Solid 7 will continue to march forward in the 19th Congress. We will stand on two feet, or one foot. Injured or not, rest assured, we will always step up,” she said.

On his Viber group with reporters, Revilla merely laughed off the puns that poked fun at his foot injury, which is going down in history as a powerful political weapon.

“It is one of the triggers, but there are several problems already. Let us move on from the issue,” Revilla said, vowing to put his best foot forward.

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