Palace ‘ready’ to work with Arroyo

Manila: The presidential palace said it is “able and ready” to work with newly-installed House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo while pointing out that the executive branch will always be independent from the legislative.

“It has always been the Palace position that we do not interfere in purely internal matters of the House … We have had very good relations with Speaker Arroyo. She was one of the staunchest supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte during the elections. They share the same political agenda,” Roque added, stressing that the Palace does not foresee any problems in working with Arroyo,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said.

On Monday, the 71-year-old Pampanga 2nd congressional district Representative Arroyo became the Philippine Congress’s first female Speaker, getting a majority vote to displace Davao Del Norte first district Representative Pantaleon Alvarez from the speakership.

Roque said Duterte abides by the principle of separation of powers among the coequal branches of government, and as such would accord members of Congress full respect particularly in their choice of leadership.

Arroyo, in a statement said she welcomes the support from his colleagues in the House.

“I am extremely honoured to have been supported by my colleagues at the House of Representatives to be their new Speaker. I will endeavour to carry out the legislative agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte in the Lower House.” Arroyo was President of the Republic from 2001 to 2010. Her term had been tainted with corruption allegations, however, none of the charges against her were proven. Nevertheless, she spent five years in hospital detention until 2016.

Duterte is known to be close to Arroyo, during the time she was President, the latter picked the then Davao City Mayor to be her presidential adviser on local government.

For his part, Senator Panfilo Lacson, a political nemesis of Arroyo, said Duterte and the former President could be laying the ground for her assumption as prime minister in the event that a federal form of government is adopted.

“If GMA’s (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s) ascension to the speakership is a prelude to becoming Prime Minister, they better think twice because the Senate, both majority and minority have agreed to close ranks to defend and assert our role under the 1987 Constitution in revising or amending the same. That, I can say with certainty and conviction.

Arroyo, however, is in her last term as a member of the House after having been elected for three consecutive terms. Unless the planned charter change include term extensions, it is not possible for the former leader to become prime minister under a new parliament government set up.

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