MANILA - There was no plot to put former President and incumbent Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as leader of the House of Representatives, the minority leader of the lower chamber said Wednesday.
Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said it could have been any lawmaker voted Speaker of the House but majority of the congressmen chose Arroyo to replace Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez because of her experience and work ethic.
"This was not really planned e. She's an innocent bystander here... It was a cohesive action of the key leaders of the 3 different political groups and party-lists," he told ANC, noting that talks of the leadership change began a couple of days before the House takeover.
Suarez said lawmakers were not happy with how Alvarez managed the House, and his pronouncements on a no election scenario in 2019 were not helping him gain more trust. Even the Palace, he added, thought the former House Speaker acted haughty.
With 184 affirmative votes, Arroyo sealed what critics called a "House coup" and assumed leadership on the same day President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address.
Some political analysts have pointed out that the former president, who had weathered controversies during and after her stint as chief executive, is now in a perfect position to become prime minister under a new charter pushed by the Duterte administration.
For his part, Suarez believes talk of Arroyo eyeing the prime minister role remain speculative. If she is indeed eyeing the post, the minority lawmaker said it will always boil down to qualifications and vision for the country.
Suarez is a known ally of Mrs. Arroyo when she was president. He had previously claimed paying for a $15,000 dinner for Mrs. Arroyo and other guests at Bobby Van's Steakhouse in Washington, DC in 2009, a year before Mrs. Arroyo stepped down as president.