House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez was ousted as the fourth most powerful man in the country after majority of the members of the House of Representatives declared the position vacant in a dramatic afternoon session Monday, July 23.
The plot to replace Alvarez was said to have been initiated by presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio. Mayor Duterte-Carpio allegedly called several lawmakers Sunday evening asking for their support for Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the new Speaker.
In Monday’s morning session, Alvarez’s ouster was averted after Cebu Rep. Gwendolyn Garcia hastily adjourned the session past 12 noon. The morning session started at 10 with Alvarez delivering a speech. After his speech, Alvarez readily suspended the session for almost two hours.
During the suspension, Alvarez’s camp reportedly tried to convince majority of the members not to join the plot to overthrow him, but to no avail. As a delaying tactic, while most of the lawmakers were outside the plenary hall, Rep. Garcia abruptly adjourned the session to resume at four in the afternoon for the third State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo Duterte.
A manifesto was meanwhile circulated in the House expressing their support for Rep. Macapagal-Arroyo as the new House Speaker. The manifesto was signed by majority of the congressmen.
An hour before the resumption of the session, Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. rose up and declared the resumption of the session after about 161 lawmakers were declared present constituting a quorum.
While Rep. Andaya was talking, the microphones in the plenary hall were turned off. But this did not deter Andaya from reading the manifesto in support of Macapagal-Arroyo.
The majority then declared the seat of the House Speaker. Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. then moved to nominate Rep. Macapagal-Arroyo for the speakership. After the voting, the majority then declared Arroyo as the new Speaker.
All the drama happened while Alvarez was outside the plenary hall waiting for the arrival of President Duterte. Upon arrival, Duterte was met by Senate President Tito Sotto and Alvarez.
Few minutes after, Rep. Arroyo was called by President Duterte to discuss the matter with Alvarez. The supposed 4 p.m. start of Sona was delayed for more than an hour as a result of the change in the House leadership.
According to insiders, Alvarez was allowed to make his last official act as Speaker during the Sona and newly-installed Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would assume the House leadership thereafter.