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Arroyo installed as new House Speaker

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The House of Representatives on Monday officially elected former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as its new Speaker.

Arroyo's election came after what appeared to be an informal voting among House members to install her as their new leader moments before President Rodrigo Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Her election also effectively removes Davao Del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez from his position.

A special session after the SONA was called to make a formal election, with 238 members present in the session.

One hundred eighty-four members of the chamber voted for Arroyo's speakership and 12 abstained.

Before Arroyo's election as speaker, Malacañang maintained that it does not meddle in the internal affairs of the House, a co-equal branch of government.

"It is for the House to decide who ultimately will be its leader and when the House is ready then of course the Executive, because we are a co-equal branch of government, has no choice but to recognize kung sino 'yung kikilalanin na mayorya ng members ng Kongreso as hinalal na Speaker," presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.

Duterte's address was delayed by more than an hour as he held separate meetings with Alvarez and Arroyo over the leadership row.

Missing mace

During the session, Nueva Ecija Representative Magnolia Antonino moved to produce the mace, the symbol of the House's authority, before they proceed to their agenda.

Presiding officer Deputy Speaker Rolando Andaya, acting upon Antonino's objection-less motion, ordered the mace to be produced from the House's archives. The session was suspended for this purpose.

But even before the mace was produced, Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro moved to resume the session, saying that the mace is "merely symbolic," and that its presence cannot take precedence of the authority of the House majority present in the session.

Upon resumption of the session, Antonino moved to declare the position of the Speaker vacant, which received no objection from the body.

Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu then nominated Arroyo for the position, which was not contested by any other member. No other nomination was made.

The House then proceeded to a nominal voting and elected Arroyo as the new Speaker.

Rumors of Alvarez's ouster have been spreading since earlier this year.

A news report, citing an unnamed lawmaker, said that some lawmakers from Mindanao are going around Northern Luzon to gather support to install former Arroyo as Speaker.

Meanwhile, Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Jay Velasco is reportedly being eyed to replace Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas.

Arroyo previously held the position of deputy speaker until she was removed from her post in March last year following her vote against the controversial death penalty bill. —with Virgil Lopez/JST, GMA News

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