MANILA - Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Tuesday said she was "extremely honored" over the support of her fellow lawmakers who voted her as the new speaker of the lower house of Congress.
The 71-year-old Arroyo was sworn in as the country's first woman Speaker late on Monday after receiving the support of 184 congressmen present, with 12 abstentions.
"I am extremely honored to have been supported by my colleagues at the House of Representatives to be their new Speaker," she said in her first statement as leader of the lower chamber.
"I will endeavor to carry out the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Lower House," she added.
Arroyo replaced Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker following his public spat with the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Arroyo shares similar policy agendas with Duterte, including their desire to have strong ties with historic rival China.
Arroyo was in power from 2001 to 2010, and then detained for 5 years for graft.
As president, she weathered 5 impeachment efforts and military coups that failed.
She was accused of rigging elections and her government was plagued by allegations of graft involving Chinese firms, which she denies. The Supreme Court in 2016 dismissed plunder charges against her and ordered her release from hospital detention, throughout which she still held her seat in Congress.
Political commentator Earl Parreno said Arroyo had the experience and influence to shepherd through Duterte's planned shift to a federal system, and might have her eye on the presidency for when his term ends.
"She is perfect for the job," Parreno said.
"This signals a big political comeback. She may have an ambition to replace Duterte under a new constitution in 2022. The only question is, is she acceptable?"
With a report from Reuters