MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 3) The House of Representatives has voted to declare the speakership vacant, effectively ousting Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. from the position he has held for five consecutive three-year terms.
Of the 240 House members, 174 voted ?yes? to declare the speakership vacant, 35 voted ?no,? and 16 abstained.
Hours earlier, De Venecia anticipated his ouster in an impassioned speech and in an interview with reporters said he would join the political opposition and was declaring ?war? on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
De Venecia in a 59-minute speech accused Malacañang of orchestrating moves to remove him as speaker.
He recounted the times he had stood to defend President Arroyo, and said, ?It pains me grievously to hurt the President and to hurt the First Family because I have invested so much more than any of you in this chamber to help the President become Vice President, become President?.?
Reporters later asked De Venecia whether his accusations against the President, members of her family and close associates were a declaration of war. He replied, ?Yes.?
?I will join the opposition to denounce corruption in this administration. I will join the battle against corruption,? he said.
In his speech, De Venecia said that Malacañang was in "collusion" with a private lawyer who had filed several complaints against him and his son, Jose ?Joey? De Venecia III, before the Ombudsman.
He was referring to lawyer Roel Pulido, who had also filed an ethics case against him at the House.
He added that congressmen could not use proceeds of the road users' tax without going through agents of Malacañang.
He accused the presidential palace of inaction on alleged assassination threats against him and his son, who has alleged bribe offers in connection with a contract to put up a multimillion-dollar national broadband network.
Before ending his speech, De Venecia also identified port magnate Enrique Razon, who served as treasurer of Arroyo?s senatorial candidates last year, as having control of the pork barrel, road users? tax funds and many projects of the administration.
He described Razon as ?partner in the corridors of power in Malacañang.?