Duterte 'threatened to walk out' during Arroyo, Alvarez tug-of-war

Sherrie Ann Torres and Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2018 03:51 PM

House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/Composite

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to walk out on Monday, amid a power struggle at the House of Representatives, Senate President Tito Sotto said. 

Sotto, who was with Duterte at the lounge, said the chief executive was not pleased at the unfolding drama.

"Magwo-walkout na lang ako pag di nila inayos yan!," Sotto quoted Duterte as saying. 

Earlier Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque revealed that “tempers flared” as Duterte tried to fix the leadership row at the House of Representatives that delayed his State of the Nation Address by an hour.

Roque said Duterte had to talk separately with Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after the latter staged what many consider a coup to grab the top seat at the lower chamber.

Arroyo took oath as House Speaker minutes before Duterte arrived at the Batasan Pambansa for his SONA, triggering chaos at the lower chamber.

Confusion was palpable among those waiting for the President’s SONA as Arroyo was still at the rostrum of the House plenary hall as Alvarez, in his capacity as Speaker, welcomed Duterte at the Batasan Pambansa. 

Roque said Duterte was apprised of the developments when he arrived at the House of Representatives. It took about an hour before the President delivered his SONA, with Alvarez seating at the rostrum as he gave his third annual report to the nation.

But Roque said the tension was really high during that one hour where Duterte, aided by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, mediated between the camps of Arroyo and Alvarez.

“They were like saying, ‘Why is he inside? He is no longer speaker,’” Roque quoted one of Arroyo’s supporters as saying.

“Tempers were really flaring all over the place. They all had to behave because the President was around, of course.”

Arroyo was elected as the new House Speaker Monday evening, hours after Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address with Alvarez seated behind him.

Some 244 members of the House of Representatives resumed session around 7:30 p.m. to formalize the removal of Alvarez and the election of Arroyo as House Speaker.

Arroyo secured the speakership with 184 affirmative votes, while 12 lawmakers opted to abstain. She was the sole nominee for the position.

Alvarez's removal came after he quarreled with his erstwhile political patron, Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr., one of the biggest donors in Duterte's 2016 presidential campaign. 

Alvarez also had a public spat with President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Duterte-Carpio had slammed Alvarez for allegedly calling her a part of the opposition when she formed a separate regional political party. Alvarez denied this, saying the mayor's new party was a "non-issue." 

A source told ABS-CBN News that it was the President’s daughter who worked for Alvarez’s ouster. The President’s involvement in the supposed plot, however, remains unclear.

Roque said the Palace is ready to work with Arroyo, whose rise to the speakership has been met with criticism by Senators Grace Poe and Panfilo Lacson.

“She (Arroyo) was one of the staunchest supporters of the president during the elections. They share the same political agenda so we foresee absolutely no problems in working with Speaker Arroyo,” Roque said.