'Wala na bang iba?' Poe dismayed at Arroyo's House coup

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2018 02:59 AM

Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo waves to colleagues after she was elected by congressmen as the new Speaker of the House of Representatives on Monday. Czar Dancel, Reuters

MANILA - Senator Grace Poe said Monday she was dismayed at the stunning change in House leadership, which saw Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo elected as its new speaker.

"Bagama’t ako’y wala namang kapangyarihan na mamili dito sa lower House, minsan napapaisip ako, wala na bang ibang puwedeng pagpilian?" she said.

Arroyo secured the speakership following a tug-of-war against Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez. A total of 184 representatives voted for Arroyo, while 12 abstained.

With Arroyo taking the nation's fourth most powerful position, Poe warned the public to be vigilant if the proposed shift to a parliamentary form of government succeeds.

"Kung magkakaroon ng parliamentary form of government, ang mamumuno sa Kongreso ay halos kapantay ang kapangyarihan sa presidente," she said.

"So sabihin na natin, ang magiging speaker ngayon ay maging speaker ng panahon na iyan, ‘yan ba ang gusto ninyong pagbabago, na alam naman natin ay may pinagdaanan na ang ating bansa ng ilang taon?"

Arroyo, who was president from 2001 to 2010, was detained for nearly four years for plunder charges.

She was released in July 2016 after the Supreme Court ruled there was no evidence to hold her liable for the questioned release of P366 million intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) in her final two years as president. 

The Supreme Court in 2017 dismissed with finality the plunder case against Arroyo.

"Kaya nga mas lalong importante ngayon ang Senado na hindi basta-basta i-ratipika kung ano man ‘yung ihahain ng hindi pinag-aaralan," Poe said.

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'BUSINESS AS USUAL'

Despite of the leadership infighting, Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin of AAMBIS-OWA party-list said they will carry on as usual with Arroyo leading the lower chamber.

"We continue to work whoever the speaker is," she told ANC's "Business Nightly."

Though they failed to ratify the proposed Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) after the House abruptly adjourned its session Monday, Garin said she is optimistic the measure would be signed into law soon.

"I'm quite positive," she said.

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For former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, the dramatic standoff over House speakership is a reflection of the present state of affairs.

"Napakaimportante sa isang presidente na mayroon siyang control doon sa Kamara, doon nanggagaling karamihan ng kaniyang suporta," he told "Bandila sa DZMM."

"Kung may nagigiiran na tenyente sa Kamara na lahat ay kaalyado niya, medyo nasasalamin din sa kaniya 'yung problema na 'yun."

The leadership row, which delayed and eclipsed Duterte's address for over an hour, bared a crack in the president's ruling coalition, Hilbay said.

"Ibig sabihin nun, nagkaroon ng hiwa-hiwalay na grupo sa kaalyado ni presidente," he said. - with a report from Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News