The House of Representatives on Monday night reached a majority vote to formally install Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the new Speaker, replacing Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez.
Arroyo, former president of the country, earned a total of 184 votes. Only 12 lawmakers abstained from voting.
The lower chamber held a special session immediately after President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address. Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya Jr. presided over the session.
Arroyo took her oath as Speaker before Ang Kabuhayan Partylist Rep. Dennis Laogan, the youngest congressman in the 17th Congress.
Nueva Ecija Rep. Magnolia Antonino raised the motion to declare the speakership vacant.
The lawmakers then swiftly moved to elect a new leader with Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu nominating Arroyo to become the next Speaker. No other nominations were made.
The session was initially held without the presence of the mace, but it was restored during the nominal voting.
Some lawmakers earlier noted that holding a “maceless” session is irregular and could affect the validity of the election.
Section 16 of the House rules provides that: “The Mace shall be the symbol of authority of the House and shall be displayed at the Speaker’s rostrum when the House is in session. The Mace shall serve as the warrant for the Sergeant-at-Arms in enforcing order in the House.”
Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro, however, argued that the “presence of the mace cannot take precedence over the authority of the majority.” Andaya echoed Castro’s remark, saying that the mace is “merely symbolic.”
Before Duterte’s scheduled SONA at 4 p.m., Arroyo already took her oath as Speaker.
Alvarez, however, took the seat of the Speaker at the rostrum when Congress convened in a joint session for Duterte’s SONA.
President Duterte also acknowledged Alvarez as the Speaker at the start of his SONA speech.
The ouster move against Alvarez came after a manifesto of support to endorse Arroyo’s speakership bid circulated Monday morning.
Duterte’s allies said the ouster move against Alvarez has the support of the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, who earlier had a spat with Alvarez.
The Alvarez and Duterte-Carpio conflict started last February when he labeled the Davao City mayor as being part of the opposition when she formed the regional political party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago.PNA