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Alvarez: I think I’m still the House Speaker

/ 06:49 PM July 23, 2018

Philippine House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez bangs the gavel during to start the third regular session of the 17th Congress in Quezon city, metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Monday, July 23, 2018. The Philippine House of Representatives has failed to ratify as expected a new autonomy deal that many hope will peacefully settle one of Asia’s longest-raging Muslim separatist rebellions and help prevent a repeat of a disastrous Islamic State group-linked attack in the country’s south. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

“Mukhang ako pa naman.”

This was the short statement that Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez gave when asked who was the real Speaker of the House of Representatives.

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In a surprise move before President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Monday, former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo took her oath as Speaker of the House.

Arroyo took her oath as Speaker with 161 lawmakers voting in favor of the move. Fourteen lawmakers abstained.

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However, she refused to address the issue in an ambush interview inside the House plenary.

READ: With House sound system dead, Arroyo takes oath as new Speaker

Surigao del Sur, 1st District Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr. said they tried to get a consensus on the issue and that Alvarez had requested to preside over the session today.

Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro said some lawmakers questioned the validity of Arroyo’s rise to the post.

He also said the majority is currently studying what would be their next move.

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, who was also at the plenary, said there would be questions about the validity and legality of the events, especially since the mace, the chamber’s symbol of legislative authority, had been removed when the session adjourned earlier – before Macapagal-Arroyo was elected.

Opposition Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, who abstained from voting, said the election of Arroyo was a “shameful sham.”

“The ‘election’ of Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the new Speaker barely an hour before President Rodrigo Duterte was scheduled to deliver his third Sona at 4:00 p.m. on Monday, 23 July 2018 was a shameful sham,” he said in a statement.

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“It was ‘conducted’ without a prior attendance call, without the official mace, without any rules, without any record or journal, with the instant nominal voting based on a mere directory of members and without a sound system,” he added.

Due to this irregularity, Lagman lamented that the delivery of the Sona was delayed for over an hour.

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate echoed Lagman’s sentiments.

“What they did was a blatant and naked power grab,” Zarate said in a statement. “ inagasaan ng kampo ni Rep. Macapagal-Arroyo ang proseso ng eleksyon sa Kongreso.”

“What happened only shows how the interest of our people can be sacrificed to suit the selfish interests of those in power,” he added. “This rump session also showed a deep and major crack in the majority coalition. While it exposes an intense power intramurals, it is aimed at the same end game – cha-cha [charter change] and perpetuation in office of those in power.”

Two hundred and thirty-eight lawmakers are currently attempting to hold a session at the plenary, unfazed by the disruption of the sound system, the lack of the mace and the secretariat, and the questions against the validity of their move. /vvp /atm

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TAGS: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Pantaleon Alvarez, Philippine news updates, Sona, sona2018
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