Arroyo ‘honored’ to be Speaker, vows to carry out Duterte legislative agenda

NEWLY installed Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of Pampanga feels “honored” to sit as the top leader of the House of Representatives.

The former president issued the statement less than 24 hours after she staged a “coup” of sorts when 184 lawmakers across party-lines wrested the Speakership from Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.

“I am extremely honored to have been supported by my colleagues at the House of Representatives to be their new Speaker. I will endeavor to carry out the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Lower House,” Arroyo said.

Arroyo’s 184 votes was recorded officially in a session convened after President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA) at 6 p.m., two hours behind the traditional 4 p.m. schedule amid confusion over who should join the Chief Executive and Senate President Vicente Sotto 3rd at the start of the program after the sudden turn of events.

The limelight-grabbing leadership change, however, started at about 3 p.m. or an hour before Congress was supposed to convene in a joint session to listen to President Duterte’s SONA when Rep. Rolando Andaya of Camarines Sur—Arroyo’s budget secretary from 2006 to 2010—announced on one of the microphones in the session hall that at least 161 House members met to make an urgent decision.

Andaya’s microphone, however, was quickly turned off and journalists cordoned off from the session hall pending the arrival of Duterte for his SONA were left without an audio-video feed of the proceedings from the session hall.

It was Rep. KarloNograles of Davao City, chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations who conducted the roll call while Rep. DoyLeachon of Oriental Mindoro was seen holding pen and paper apparently tallying the votes.

After the vote, Arroyo emerged from the huddle of lawmakers and climbed the rostrum with Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro of Capiz for her oathtaking.

Arroyo took her oath before Rep. Dennis Laogan of AngKabuhayan party-list, the youngest member of the House at 27 years old. LLANESCA T. PANTI | The Manila Times