Arroyo completes House coup after SONA

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2018 09:02 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2018 12:20 AM

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MANILA (UPDATED) - Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was elected as the new House Speaker Monday evening, hours after President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) with ousted Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez seated behind him.

Some 244 members of the House of Representatives resumed session around 7:30 p.m. to formalize the removal of Alvarez and the election of Arroyo as House Speaker.

Arroyo secured the speakership with 184 affirmative votes, while 12 lawmakers opted to abstain.

Arroyo was the sole nominee for the position.

Alvarez was supposed to be ousted during the opening session in the morning, but his allies abruptly adjourned the session to stop other members from raising a motion to declare the Speaker’s post vacant.

The House mace also went missing, thus preventing the transition from taking place before the SONA. The House cannot hold session without the mace in its proper place. 

In the morning, at least 161 pro-Arroyo lawmakers had signed a manifesto voting for the former president to be the new head of the chamber. 

“The House of Representatives, and the Nation, will benefit from the experience, competence, sobriety, steady, and unifying leadership of former president and Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Speaker,” a copy of the manifesto circulated among reporters read.

“As many critical issues involving the future structure and framework of our government will need to be discussed very soon, a credible and competent House leadership will be needed to guide and steer the national debate towards a resolution of these pending issues,” the document read.

Arroyo took her oath of office at the plenary hall rostrum “mic-less” and “mace-less”, but it was Alvarez who welcomed Duterte to the Batasan Pambansa and sat in the Speaker’s chair during the SONA.

Formalizing victory

Arroyo’s allies had to re-do the voting after the SONA as her victory via the signing of a manifesto while the session was technically adjourned was deemed unofficial.

The second voting was done nominally, with the House mace returned to the plenary rostrum before Arroyo was declared as the new Speaker.

The former president immediately took oath after the votes were tallied.

Arroyo, who is on her third and last term as Pampanga representative, is the first former president named as House Speaker. She is also the first female to hold the position.