GMA demoted as House senior deputy speaker

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
GMA demoted as House senior deputy speaker
When reporters sought a reaction, the former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo camp quoted the ex-president as saying: “It’s the prerogative of the House.”
Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — In a sudden turn of events, the leadership of the House of Representatives demoted Wednesday night former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as senior deputy speaker, and replaced her with her provincemate, Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr.

The two Pampanga lawmakers – Arroyo from the second district and Gonzales (an engineer by profession) from the third district – have swapped positions in the lower legislative chamber, with Arroyo now being one of the “deputy speakers.”

When reporters sought a reaction, the Arroyo camp quoted the ex-president as saying: “It’s the prerogative of the House.”

Her official title now already bears the “deputy speaker” post under her name.

Speaker Martin Romualdez has not issued any statement on the matter yet.

Both Romualdez – a cousin of President Marcos – and Arroyo are stalwarts of the ruling Lakas-CMD party, which helped catapult the Chief Executive and Vice President Sara Duterte to their current positions, having won in the May 2022 presidential elections.

While he was not in the plenary, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe issued a statement downplaying the minor shuffle of the two Pampanga veteran legislators.

“The House of Representatives has elected Deputy Speaker Aurelio ‘Dong’ Gonzales Jr. as Senior Deputy Speaker to unburden his cabalen, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, of the heavy load required from the position,” the statement said, not going any further.

The nomination and election of Gonzales, stalwart of the once powerful PDP-Laban party during the time of former president Rodrigo Duterte, was announced by Iloilo Rep. Lorenz Defensor, who stood as majority leader in Dalipe’s absence.

“Mr. Speaker, I move to elect the honorable Aurelio ‘Dong’ Gonzales Jr., representative of the third district of Pampanga as senior deputy speaker vice the honorable Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo,” Defensor declared.

This was approved by Deputy Speaker Democrito Mendoza of TUCP party-list, who was the presiding officer of Wednesday’s session, especially when nobody questioned the nomination and election.

“I move to elect the honorable Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as representative of the second district of Pampanga as deputy speaker vice the position vacated by the newly elected senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio ‘Dong’ Gonzales Jr.,” Defensor said later.

Creating divisions

Rep. Sandro Marcos, son of the Chief Executive, defended his father against disinformation that alleged the President had criticized Duterte, saying this is all the handiwork of the opposition who desperately want to make a comeback in the 2025 elections.

“I think that’s all an attempt to really create divisions within the administration that has been so focused on unity, in order to make a comeback in the 2025 midterm elections,” the younger Marcos said.

The first-term Ilocos Norte congressman was referring to claims that Marcos had taken a swipe at Duterte when he remarked in a media interview, and acknowledged as well, that abuses were committed by authorities at the height of the drug war in the previous administration.

“Those who are close to the President know that he is expressing his wholehearted thanks to FPRRD (former president Duterte). That is why the courtesy resignations were asked by the (Marcos) administration,” the senior House deputy majority leader explained.

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