Escudero resigns as chair of Senate finance committee

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Senator Francis Escudero addressing the crowd at the T'Nalak Festival in Korondal, South Cotabato. (CNN File Photo)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero resigned on Tuesday (July 28) as chairman of the Senate finance committee.

“I believe that it behooves me to step down at this juncture to ensure that deliberations on the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) — considered the single most important piece of legislation passed by Congress each year — are untainted by suspicions or perceptions of partisan politics,” Escudero said in a statement.

Escudero also gave up his post as co-chairman of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Public Expenditures.

His resignation comes a day after the last State of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III.

Escudero cited 'public pronouncements regarding his possible candidacy for higher office' as reason for him to 'give up the two powerful finance panels and spare the budget deliberation from possible misperception that he may use it to further his own political plans and actions.'

Escudero, whose Senate term ends on 2019, is being rumored as the possible running mate of Senator Grace Poe in the 2016 national polls.

Both senators, however, have not yet announced their plans for the upcoming elections.

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According to Escudero, he tendered his letter of resignation Tuesday, with immediate effect, to Senate President Frank Drilon.

“It is, Mr. President, what propriety requires; it is, I believe, what our people expect from us all: delicadeza,” said Escudero, while addressing the Senate president.

A deft political move

Escudero also expressed gratitude to Drilon for "entrusting him the crucial responsibility of managing the Senate’s role in fulfilling Congress’ duty of overseeing the Executive Department’s use of public funds and ensuring that all money appropriated is guided by what is in the best interests of the people."

Drilon, meanwhile, praised Escudero's decision calling the resignation a 'deft political move'.

"It is certainly commendable that Senator Francis Escudero voluntarily resigned as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, so that the 2016 national budget will be shielded from possible allegations of partisanship should he seek higher office in the next elections," Drilon said in a statement.

"The political season is already upon us. Having said that, his resignation is a deft political move. This early, he will be able to fend off any possible accusations that the 2016 national budget is being designed to help his candidacy. As chairman of the Finance Committee, all eyes would have been on Senator Escudero, especially that of his political adversaries," he added.

Drilon said that he will immediately consult with the majority coalition as to who will be the next committee chair.

He also gave the assurance that the Senate’s handling of the 2016 national budget will not be affected by this development and that it will be passed on time.

Escudero, who is also a member of the majority bloc in the Senate, reiterated his commitment to remain at the forefront of efforts to ensure the timely passage of the GAB and that categorical safeguards are in place to guarantee that it complies with the Supreme Court rulings on the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP).