Kapit-tuko sa posisyon? Here's why Alvarez was still seated next to Duterte during SONA - The Daily Sentry

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Kapit-tuko sa posisyon? Here's why Alvarez was still seated next to Duterte during SONA

House Speaker Alvarez, President Duterte, and Senate President Sotto III, photo from Inquirer
Minutes before the president was about to deliver his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), not only did the Batasang Pambansa was surrounded by confusion, but the people watching on live television due to the commotion that happened Monday, July 23.

This, after the Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapal-Arroyo was seen on the rostrum announcing something that the people watching TV would not understand. Soon after, it was reported that the audio was currently turned off.

Few moments later, the then-president-turned-Pampanga-representative was already sworn in as the new House Speaker of the House of Representatives with her fellow lawmakers standing before her. The new speaker's oath took place after an incumbent House leader, Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, was welcoming Duterte at the back lobby of the Batasang Pambansa complex.

Due to the fuss that transpired only moments away prior Pres. Duterte's speech, the Filipino public was left with the question, "who will seat next to the President during his SONA, Alvarez or Arroyo?".

House Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro, an official of the lower Chamber, has recalled how the dilemma that took place during the recently-concluded SONA was settled.

In an interview, the Deputy Speaker told ABS-CBN news that Arroyo being the new House Speaker elected by the majority, they wanted the former president to escort Pres. Duterte.

“As the new House Speaker, we wanted her [Arroyo] to escort the President,” he said.

However, obviously, what happened was otherwise.

Along with other government officials, then-House Speaker Alvarez and Senate President Vicente Sotto III received Pres. Duterte into the presidential lounge.

After being announced as the new House Speaker - albeit the absence of the House Secretariat, Mace, and benefit of a sound system - by her fellow solons at the House plenary, the majority-elected House Speaker later proceeded to the presidential lounge, where she was, according to a report, initially barred from entering.
The new House Speaker Gloria Arroyo and the then-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, photo from ABS-CBN
Report says according to Castro, the President immediately discussed the issue with Arroyo and Alvarez, reason why the SONA had to be delayed for more than an hour.

“I don’t believe that was valid. There was no sound, there was no Mace,” Castro said, quoting Alvarez.

“Reportedly, Speaker Gloria said that well, if Speaker Alvarez would not recognize the validity of what happened, she doesn’t mind allowing Alvarez to perform his duty at Sona,” he said, quoting Arroyo’s supposed response.

Thus, the former Speaker Alvarez was able to take his seat next to the President at the rostrum during the SONA.

Such was permitted by the now-Speaker Arroyo since “he (Alvarez) would not recognize the validity of what happened.”

Castro said that the ex-Speaker was different in the way Arroyo mingled with House members. Unlike Alvarez, he said, Arroyo was able to establish a strong relationship with people in the Congress.

“Speaker Alvarez was a little distant from the members of the House. […] He did not develop the ability to sense the sentiment of the members,” the Deputy Speaker said.

Pressed with the question whether or not Alvarez ever asked how other lawmakers were doing, Castro replied: “Never.”

On Monday night, immediately after the SONA, GMA was formally declared as the new Speaker of the House with 184 votes.

Arroyo made history as she is the first ever female as well as the first former President to assume such post in the Philippine history.
Senate President Tito Sotto III, House Speaker Gloria Arroyo, ex-Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez
Source: Inquirer