MANILA, Philippines — Former president and speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo might have retired from politics, but apparently she still wields influence over the country’s political affairs.
The STAR learned that she played a crucial role in the resolution of the leadership squabble in the House of Representatives when Speaker Lord Allan Velasco ended up unseating Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
A source revealed that Arroyo met with congressmen in her political party, Lakas-CMD, days before the election of Velasco as Speaker last Oct. 12.
The 42-member bloc in the chamber, led by party president and Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, was initially divided between Velasco and Cayetano.
But Arroyo, chair emeritus of the once ruling party, settled the impasse and led to Lakas-CMD’s support for Velasco, said an insider who requested anonymity due to lack of authority to speak on the matter.
“She played a pivotal role in settling the speakership issue – not just within Lakas, but also in Congress as a whole because the vote of Lakas became the ‘swing vote’ that decided the speakership row,” the source told The STAR.
Cayetano earlier had more numbers with the support of the Nacionalista Party (NP), National Unity Party (NUP), some members of the ruling PDP-Laban and Lakas-CMD.
This was why a majority of 184 congressmen voted to keep him as speaker when he offered to resign last Sept. 30.
At the time, Velasco only had support from a majority of President Duterte’s PDP-Laban and the party-list coalition led by Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero.
When the Lakas-CMD bloc switched support to Velasco following the small group meeting with Arroyo, the House majority followed suit.