Sara Duterte's support a 'sign from heaven'- Pichay
MANILA (UPDATED) - A Sunday night meeting in a Rockwell condominium unit that lasted till the wee hours of Monday morning sealed the downfall of Pantaleon Alvarez and the rise of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as House Speaker.
This was revealed on ANC’s Beyond Politics by Surigao del Norte Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr., who was in that meeting. He said also in that meeting were Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, Davao del Norte Gov. Anthony del Rosario, former Leyte congressman Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, and Bohol Rep. Arthur Yap.
A photo of the Rockwell meeting shown to ABS-CBN confirmed the attendance as revealed by Pichay.
Pichay, Yap, and Romualdez are key Arroyo supporters. Del Rosario is a cousin of Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo with whom Alvarez had a major falling out that led to lawsuits.
Here's a timeline of Alvarez's fall from grace from July 20 to 23, according to Pichay:
FRIDAY, JULY 20
Former Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez called up Pichay to inform him that they have the "green light" from "everybody" to move for the change of leadership in the House.
Pichay said he met with Romualdez in the latter's residence on the same day to discuss the matter.
The two lawmakers took Alvarez's spat with the President's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, and Malacañang's statement that the President can "work with anyone" as a sign that the chief executive no longer wanted Alvarez.
"Well, all the signs are there. Nag-away sila ni Sara. There was a statement issued by Harry Roque that the President can work with everyone so we presumed that the President did not want him (Alvarez) anymore," Pichay said.
Pichay said he suggested to seek Duterte-Carpio's help and Romualdez responded that he "will try to convince her."
SATURDAY, JULY 21
Pichay said he again spoke with Romualdez over the phone to discuss Duterte-Carpio's support.
Romualdez informed him that he was "not sure," but Pichay quipped that the President's daughter is "very vital" and that "without Sara, it would be very difficult for us."
"With Sara, congressmen would like to know that there is a blessing from the President," Pichay said.
"With Sara upset with the Speaker (Alvarez), I guess it's right," he added.
SUNDAY, JULY 22
Pichay began calling lawmakers but insisted that they still tap Duterte-Carpio for support.
A meeting was set up at Rockwell in Makati City and was attended by Pichay, Romualdez, Davao del Norte Gov. Anthony del Rosario, and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.
Pichay said Duterte-Carpio "arrived later."
"We needed the help of Sara to call the party leaders. We had the blessing of all the party leaders," he added.
Lawmakers who attended the meeting then began calling colleagues until 2 a.m. to seek their support, according to Pichay.
By the end of the night, a total of 161 House members had confirmed their support for a change of leadership.
"It wasn't really difficult to call them and say 'Okay, we're installing GMA as the next Speaker.' Napakadali po (It was very easy)," Pichay said.
Pichay revealed that he also called Minority leader Quezon 3rd District Rep. Danilo Suarez, who also said "yes."
MONDAY, JULY 23
Pichay said he went to Alvarez in the morning of Duterte's third SONA to inform him of their desire for a change of leadership.
During their meeting, Majority Leader Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas was also present.
Pichay said he told Alvarez: "As promised to you, I am here to deliver the message that we already have the numbers."
Alvarez, however, dismissed Pichay's words and instead challenged him that they push through with the election of a House Speaker.
"No, you don't have the numbers. I don't believe you. If you want, let's go on with the elections and if we lose, then we will be in the minority," Alvarez said, according to Pichay.
Alvarez then called up the President's top aide, Bong Go, to ask about the matter.
"He [Alvarez] called up Bong Go and he [Go] said there is no such thing [coup] so he did not believe me," Pichay said.
Pichay said Alvarez should have already anticipated the leadership change.
"He [Alvarez] should have seen it coming because Sec. Roque already made an announcement that the President can work with any leader of the House," Pichay said.
"Wasn't it a hint? I mean, if you are brilliant enough, you should know," he added.
On the same day, Arroyo was elected as the first female House Speaker, replacing Alvarez.
Alvarez was supposed to be ousted during the opening session in the morning, but his allies abruptly adjourned the session to stop other members from raising a motion to declare the Speaker’s post vacant.
The 71-year-old former president only formalized her assumption as the new leader of the House after Duterte delivered his third SONA.
Throughout the process, Pichay said he never got a call from Arroyo and cited the growing number of lawmakers dismayed with Alvarez's style of leadership.
"He [Alvarez] forgot about the unwritten rule that each congressman must be given the chance to express the sentiments not of himself but of the constituents," Pichay said.
He added that many House members had previously urged Arroyo to challenge Alvarez as leader of the chamber.
"Maybe she saw the sentiments of congressmen and probably she also didn't like the leadership of Speaker Alvarez," Pichay said.
Pichay added that he thinks President Duterte may have preferred Arroyo as House Speaker, noting her background as an economics teacher.
"Probably the President wanted a change in leadership and probably because the President needed someone who is an economist like Arroyo," he said.
Alvarez has since recognized Arroyo as his replacement and urged his colleagues to "go back to work and move on."
Now, whenever asked about details of Alvarez's ouster, Pichay said he simply responds: "I voted to install Arroyo as Speaker."