UPDATED: Former PH President Arroyo becomes new House Speaker

Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Photo via ABS-CBN.
Former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Photo via ABS-CBN.

It was a movie-worthy twist.

Former president of the Philippines and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has become the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. She took her oath today, before the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address.

She replaced Congressperson Pantaleon Alvarez, the representative of the first district of Davao del Norte.

Arroyo was seen speaking to the members of Congress from the rostrum then later took her oath with the microphone turned off.

Before Alvarez was ousted, his allies adjourned the session this morning to prevent his removal, Rappler reported.

But members of the House returned to the hall early in the afternoon, with Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya speaking at the plenary, saying that the morning session should not have adjourned that early.

Andaya continued speaking even after his microphone started malfunctioning.

Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles then appeared and looked like he was calling the roll. After several congresspersons stood up, Arroyo proceeded to walk up the podium to take her oath.

She is the first woman to become Speaker of the House.

However, it was Alvarez who welcomed President Duterte when he arrived at the hall to deliver his SONA. He also remains seated at the rostrum as Duterte delivers his speech. His allies are expected to contest Arroyo’s oath-taking.

Several reports have said that Alvarez’s ousting was led by Duterte’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Duterte-Carpio had a public feud with Alvarez, whom she called “an insecure fat sleaze” after the latter reportedly said she was part of the opposition and was not in good terms with the president.

Arroyo was the country’s president from 2001 2010. She was arrested from her hospital room in 2011 on charges of election fraud and corruption but was freed from hospital arrest in 2016 after the Supreme Court declared the evidence as insufficient.

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