MANILA - Malacañang on Tuesday revealed that President Rodrigo Duterte was concerned by the proposal of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to cancel next year’s elections to pave the way for the plebiscite on a federal charter, but it did not say whether this cost the latter the top post at the lower chamber.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte was “visibly concerned” at how Alvarez pushed for a no election scenario to give way to the plebiscite.
“The President has always maintained that federalism should be accepted by the people on its own merits,” Roque told the press.
Roque said this was just his speculation when asked what could have caused Alvarez’s ouster as House Speaker, even as he maintained that the changes of leadership at the House of Representatives was an internal matter for the chamber.
Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was elected as the new House Speaker Monday evening, hours after Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address with Alvarez seated behind him.
Some 244 members of the House of Representatives resumed session around 7:30 p.m. to formalize Alvarez's removal and Arroyo's election as House Speaker.
Arroyo secured the speakership with 184 affirmative votes, while 12 lawmakers opted to abstain. She was the sole nominee for the position.
Alvarez's removal came after he quarreled with his erstwhile political patron, Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr., one of the biggest donors in Duterte's 2016 presidential campaign.
Alvarez also had a public spat with President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Duterte-Carpio had slammed Alvarez for allegedly calling her a part of the opposition when she formed a separate regional political party. Alvarez denied this, saying the mayor's new party was a "non-issue."
A source told ABS-CBN News that it was the President’s daughter who worked for Alvarez’s ouster. The President’s involvement in the supposed plot, however, remains unclear.
Roque said the Palace is ready to work with Arroyo, whose rise to the speakership has been met with criticism by Senators Grace Poe and Panfilo Lacson.
“She (Arroyo) was one of the staunchest supporters of the president during the elections. They share the same political agenda so we foresee absolutely no problems in working with Speaker Arroyo,” Roque said.