MANILA, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- Philippine senator Manuel Villar on Monday announced his surprise resignation as Senate president amid rumors to oust him, relinquishing the top post to senator Juan Ponce Enrile.
In a surprise resignation statement at the beginning of Monday's Senate session, Villar, who has publicly announced his intention to run for the 2010 presidential election, said he was vacating his post after learning that he no longer had the support of majority of the chamber.
"My dear colleagues in this august chamber, the tenure of the Senate President - as everyone knows - depends on the number of members that supports him or her. I was informed this afternoon I no longer have the support of majority of my colleagues," Villar said in the statement.
"I therefore tender my resignation and congratulate the new Senate president, Honorable Juan Ponce Enrile," Villar said.
The out-going Senate president said he will devote his time as fiscalizer and will have more time to be with the people in the countryside and with his family.
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, a seasoned politician who rose to fame during the administration of the late president Ferdinand Marcos, was sworn in as the new Senate president Monday afternoon.
According to media reports, out of the 23 senators, 14 voted for Enrile while five abstained.
Rumors have been brewing that there is a coup against Villar at Monday¡¯s session.
Villar, who assumed the Senate top post since 2005, has declared his interest in running for the presidency in 2008. He was recently embroiled in a road project corruption controversy.
Senator Lacson told local reporters that the C-5 road project scandal triggered the movement in the upper chamber.
"You know if there is perception that the Senate leadership is damaged because of the C-5 controversy, most of the members, the majority at least of the members of the Senate, will be thinking that the whole Senate could be affected," he said.
Villar declined to mention the reasons for the Senate coup, which also came after two major Senate investigations involving the 728-million pesos (14.9 million U.S. dollars) fertilizer fund scam and the Moscow cash scandal involving key former Philippine police generals.