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Ex-President Arroyo replaced as House Senior Deputy Speaker over alleged coup plot

By Jeanne Michael Penaranda
QUEZON CITY – The House of Representatives has elected Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales, Jr. the Senior Deputy Speaker, replacing former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In a statement, House Majority Leader Manuel Jose “Mannix” Dalipe said the move was to unburden former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who represents the second district of Pampanga, “of the heavy load required from the position.”

But talks of a House “coup” surfaced after Arroyo slid on Wednesday night from Senior Deputy Speaker to Deputy Speaker, replaced by her province mate Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. of the Third District.

Arroyo downplayed the move as a House prerogative, adding she has been misconstrued as involved in a plot to oust Romualdez as speaker .

“As I have learned during my three decades as a politician, such events are part and parcel of Philippine politics. Still, I do not want it to precipitate or intensify any tendencies towards early politicking. We are just barely a year into the administration of President Marcos, Jr., and it would be unfortunate if early politicking resulted in any dilution of the tremendous mandate that the UniTeam, led by our President, earned in the 2022 elections. After all, the President ran on the platform of unity,” Arroyo said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Rep. Martin Romualdez said the country’s leaders should focus on problems hounding Filipinos.

Kung mas mapagtutuunan natin nang mas maraming oras ang paghahanap ng solusyon sa mga tunay na suliranin ng karaniwang Pilipino, sama-sama tayong babangon muli (If we can pay more attention on the worries of ordinary Filipinos, we will rise together),” Romualdez said.

The House is in order and occasional moves to destabilize it will be nipped in the bud.

Thus assured Speakerin Romualdez in a statement on Sunday amid talks of leadership squabbles the past week, saying there is no better proof of peace in the Lower House than the approval on final reading of at least 29 of e 42 bills that comprise the legislative agenda of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.

“These include measures condoning the debts of our agrarian reform beneficiaries, creation of specialty centers in the provinces similar to the Lung and Heart Centers in Metro Manila, and the Magna Carta bills that seek to protect the rights and promote the welfare of our Barangay Health Workers and Seafarers,” Romualdez stated.

Romualdez said the House cannot be distracted from finding legislative solutions to issues that affect the lives of ordinary Filipinos.

“Rather than engaging in politicking, I would rather that we, in the House of Representatives, remain focused on more urgent matters,” he said.

“The UniTeam, which the House leadership has always been a part of, must continue to focus on finding immediate solutions to problems of ordinary Filipinos. The House chooses to focus on addressing low power supply, high electricity rates, telco issues and unstable commodity prices, instead of political destabilization,” he added, referring to the alliance under which President Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte ran in the 2022 polls.

In her own statement, Arroyo said the move was “the prerogative of the House.”

Arroyo’s demotion prompted Vice President Sara Duterte to announce her irrevocable resignation as Lakas-CMD membe.

“This is to announce my irrevocable resignation as a Lakas-CMD member effective today. I am grateful to all the party members for the support that also once demonstrated that unity is possible to advance our shared dreams for our fellow Filipinos and our beloved country,” she said in a Facebook post.

Duterte served as the chairperson of the party, alongside House Speaker Martin Romualdez as the Lakas-CMD president.

Although she did not give a specific reason for her resignation, the country’s second-highest official said she does not want her service to be affected by “political power play.”

“I am here today because of the trust of the Filipino people in me to lead and serve them and the country, and this cannot be poisoned by political toxicity or undermined by execrable political power play,” Duterte said.

Despite the move, she said, she remains committed to serving the Filipino people.

“Nothing is more important to me than being able to meaningfully serve our fellow Filipinos and the Philippines, with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leading the way. Trust that my word, my commitment will be immutable,” she said.

Marcos and Duterte were running mates in the May 2022 elections