House coup? Speaker Arroyo's election valid, says solon

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 24 2018 10:27 AM | Updated as of Jul 25 2018 12:23 PM

Former President and congresswoman Gloria Arroyo waves during break in Congress on July 23, 2018. The Pampanga lawmaker was elected speaker of the House of Representatives. Noel Celis, Agence France-Presse

MANILA -- One of nearly 200 lawmakers who voted former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the speakership on Tuesday refused to brand the changing of the guard as a coup, saying procedures were followed.

Pampanga Rep. Arroyo took over from former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in a tug of war that played out on national television and delayed President Rodrigo Duterte's third State of the Nation Address on Monday.

Majority of House members voted on their own to reopen the session and vote on the leadership change even after Alvarez adjourned it on Monday morning, said Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro.

"It's not a coup. Why do I say that? Simply because the proceeding was approved by the majority of the members of congress in the plenary," he said.

"In the House of Representatives you may not have the presiding officer, you may not have the Speaker, you may not have the majority floor leader to conduct or open the session," he told ANC Headstart.

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Castro said majority of the lawmakers voted to oust Alvarez and install Arroyo as speaker following a motion from Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu, with Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya acting as interim presiding officer.

Arroyo tried to talk to Duterte before his SONA as the lawmakers wanted her to escort the Chief Executive to the plenary, Castro said.

But Arroyo was barred from entering the room where Duterte, Alvarez, and other government officials were staying, Castro said.

Arroyo and Alvarez, at one point, met before the SONA, the Capiz lawmaker said.

"Speaker Alvarez was saying 'I don't believe there was a valid election. There was no sound. There was no mace. There was no clear record of the voting,'" he quoted the former speaker as saying.

Castro said Arroyo reportedly allowed Alvarez to escort the President to the plenary and perform speaker duties and just hold a vote after the SONA.

Alvarez said he was going to step down after the President's address, Castro said.

Castro said he believed Alvarez was ousted because he was "a little distant" from House members.

Arroyo was elected speaker late Monday, with the vote of 184 out of 244 lawmakers present.