Demoted again: House removes Arroyo from deputy speaker position 

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Demoted again: House removes Arroyo from deputy speaker position 
Composite photo shows House Speaker Martin Romualdez and Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives removed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the ranks of its deputy speakers during Tuesday’s plenary session, stripping the former president of a House leadership title six months after she was demoted from the second-highest position at the lower chamber.

House Majority leader Manuel Dalipe said that House leaders decided to relieve Macapagal-Arroyo and Rep. Isidro Ungab (Davao City, 3rd District) from their deputy speaker positions after they chose not to sign a “pivotal” House resolution to condemn "levied criticisms and scurrilous attacks against the House and its leadership."

Of the nine deputy speakers, only Macapagal-Arroyo and Ungab did not sign the resolution, Dalipe said.

“By choosing not to sign the resolution, Deputy Speakers Macapagal-Arroyo and Ungab have demonstrated that their perspectives differ from the collective stance of the leadership,” Dalipe added.

House Resolution 1414, which was sponsored during Monday's plenary session, calls on the House to "(uphold) the integrity and honor of the House of Representatives and (express) appreciation, solidarity and support" for House Speaker Martin Romualdez.

Specifically, the House resolution took exception to recent "statements made that undermine the independence, integrity and reputation" of the lower chamber.

While the resolution itself does not name names, House Senior Deputy Speaker Dong Gonzales (Pampanga) admitted during Monday’s plenary session that the resolution was in response to former President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised accusations about Romualdez's alleged corrupt activities.

The House elected Rep. Antonio Tonypet Albano (Isabela, 1st District) and Rep. Yasser Balindong (Lanao del Sur, 2nd District) to replace the two lawmakers.

“While their contributions to the House are appreciated and respected, the leadership believes that it is in the best interest of the House to have leaders who fully support and uphold the collective decisions and directions set forth by the leadership,” he added.

Asked for comment on why she did not sign the House resolution, Macapagal-Arroyo said in a message to reporters Monday night: “I'm currently out of the country. However, as I always said, I continue to support the leadership of Speaker Romualdez."

A deputy speaker is the second-highest-ranking position in the lower chamber, right below the House speaker. Deputy speakers enjoy certain privileges that set them apart from other lawmakers, such as voting powers in all House committees and additional funding for their respective offices.

Before May, Macapagal-Arroyo used to hold the title of senior deputy speaker, which placed her above eight other lawmakers in the same position. She was demoted to “unburden” her of the “heavy load required from the position," Dalipe said.

Gonzales, a fellow Pampanga lawmaker who replaced Macapagal-Arroyo as senior deputy speaker, resigned from Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) during Monday’s plenary session to tag Duterte as the source of the remarks that “challenged the integrity of the House.” 

Duterte is the chairperson of PDP-Laban.

In February, Macapagal-Arroyo filed a resolution to call on the House to declare its “unequivocal” defense of Duterte from being investigated by the International Criminal Court. The resolution was also signed by Gonzales.

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