Arroyo rejects 'no-el'
MANILA - New House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday denied eyeing the prime minister post if the country adopts a parliamentary form of government via charter change.
Arroyo’s rise to the House speakership fueled speculations that it could be part of a plan to make her prime minister.
When asked about such supposed plans, Arroyo said, “No, no, no, no. Not true.”
While the draft federal constitution endorsed by President Rodrigo Duterte provides for a presidential setup, Congress may still opt to approve a parliamentary system headed by a prime minister who will be elected among members of parliament.
Arroyo said any effort to postpone the 2019 elections will not prosper in the lower chamber under her leadership.
“No to 'no-el'. The elections have to push through,” she said.
Her predecessor, Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, pushed for a no-election scenario in 2019 supposedly to give lawmakers more time to work on the proposed shift to federalism.
A "no-el" scenario would effectively extend the terms of office of members of the lower chamber, all local officials, and some senators.
On Monday, 184 congressmen voted for Arroyo to replace Alvarez.
When asked about possible changes in the chairmanship of House committees, Arroyo said, “We haven’t reached that stage yet.”
Her ally, current House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, in an interview Tuesday said the chairman of sensitive committees will be replaced, and they are looking for possible candidates.
But Arroyo met with the chairmen of different House committees on Wednesday to give the green light in resuming with legislative work after the dramatic change in speakership.