House leadership row to continue after SONA

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 23 2018 05:48 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2018 01:34 AM

Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/Composite

MANILA - The standoff between Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for the House speakership will continue after President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his third State of the Nation Address.

Alvarez and Arroyo both claimed the position of House Speaker minutes before Duterte’s SONA as 161 members voted for the former president to replace the PDP-Laban Secretary General as the chamber’s leader.

Arroyo had already taken her oath as Speaker when Duterte arrived at the Batasan Pambansa, but Alvarez was seen at the side of the President as he entered the House of Representatives.

“Majority bloc initially decided to push through with the SONA with Alvarez as Speaker, then adjourn joint session so House members would have to stay, reconvene and vote again to formalize change of leadership,” a lawmaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity told ABS-CBN News.

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

One lawmaker said there is a question on whether the impromptu session to vote for Arroyo as Speaker is valid. "The mace wasn’t upright for one,” the lawmaker said.

Alvarez’s ouster came after his public spat with Davao City Mayor and first daughter Sara Duterte.

Mayor Duterte slammed Alvarez for calling her a “part of the opposition” after she formed Hugpong ng Pagbabago, a regional bloc that did not include Alvarez and his allies.

Other lawmakers said Alvarez’s ouster was due to his decision to withhold the budget from members who voted against his pet bills.

His ouster was a “product of overzealous attempts of the leaderships to enforce party discipline with chairpersons removed, allocations for districts cut,” Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat told ABS-CBN News.

“We will now become curious onlookers to this amazing and historic anomaly of a maceless and mic-less session to change the speaker,” he said