Former President now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has denied any coup plan against House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez.
“When I learned that there were reports that I was suspected of plotting a ‘coup’ against Speaker Romualdez, I decided I must speak out to clarify my political position. Indeed, some of my actions may have been misconstrued, such as my recent trip with a delegation of congressmen to Korea for some official meetings,” said Arroyo in a statement issued late Thursday.
“On the 17th of May 2023, I received news that Deputy Speaker Dong Gonzales was elected Senior Deputy Speaker in my place. My first reaction was that it is always the prerogative of the House to make changes in its leadership structure. Thus, I congratulate Dong, and I hope his new position will help him fulfill his mandate to represent our fellow Kapampangans,” she added.
On further reflection, Arroyo said she now feels it necessary to explain her thoughts on the matter.
According to Arroyo, her political objectives are clear: to represent the 2nd district of Pampanga, to support the legislative agenda of Romualdez and President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., and to use whatever experience she has as a former President to help out when she called upon to do so.
“Outside of my role as congresswoman, my public interest going forward is to help reduce tensions between the United States and China, given that I was strongly allied to both countries when I was President,” she said.
“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,” she added.
When President Marcos won, Arroyo admitted that she wanted to aspire for the Speakership of the House.
But it soon became apparent that Marcos was most comfortable with his cousin, Romualdez, as Speaker, she said after realizing the wisdom embedded in that sentiment.
In the Philippines, Arroyo said the House leadership has traditionally been closely associated with the sitting President, and this relationship of deep trust between Speaker and President has been beneficial in smoothly enacting the legislative agenda of the President.
“I think this is acceptable, because in the Philippines, the check and balance needed in any democracy has traditionally been well provided by the Senate,” she said.
Arroyo said it also should be noted, “being Speaker once more is no longer part of my political objectives.”
“This has been my position ever since Speaker Romualdez was elected in the 19th Congress, and I continue to urge my Lakas-CMD partymates to support our party President in that role,” she said.
“Am I firm in this position? Some may recall that in December 2002, I publicly declared that I would not run for President in 2004. But I had responsibilities of a sitting President then, so later events with serious national security and political implications convinced me to change my mind. I refer to such matters as our war on terrorism following 9-11 and the continuing attempts at destabilization at that time,” she said.
This time, Arroyo said, she is a mere congresswoman, “so issues of national importance no longer depend on my role in Congress. Thus, I have no compelling reasons to change my mind about foregoing my ambitions for the Speakership.”
By this disavowal, the former president said she hopes that we can preempt any needless politicking so that the House and our President can focus on the job at hand with minimum distraction.
Amid coup issues, political parties and groups reiterated their support for President Marcos and Speaker Romualdez after the leadership decision demoting Arroyo from Senior Deputy Speaker position to a Deputy Speaker.
The House of Representatives has elected Deputy Speaker Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales Jr. as Senior Deputy Speaker to “unburden” his “cabalen,” Arroyo, of the “heavy load” required from the position, said Majority Leader Mannix Dalipe.
Asking for her comment, Arroyo only said, “It’s the prerogative of the House.”
For his part, Gonzales, who is PDP-Laban national treasurer, said his party expressed its full support for the administration and the leadership of Romualdez in the House of Representatives.
“Our party reiterates its unwavering support for both the President and Speaker Romualdez. Together, they have accomplished much for our country and our people,” said Gonzales.
“Our Speaker is a valuable ally and helping hand to the President in terms of shepherding the administration’s legislative priorities in Congress,” he said.
He added PDP-Laban is thankful to the House and Romualdez for choosing and electing him as senior deputy speaker.
“As in the past, as a loyal member of the majority, I will always support the Speaker and will continue to work for the benefit of my constituents in the 3rd district of Pampanga and of my kabalen in the province,” Gonzales added.
Deputy Speaker and Nacionalista Party Spokesperson Camille Villar also expressed the party’s unequivocal support to the leadership, as “we remain fully committed to the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to its vision of a united and prosperous nation.”
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace S. Barbers said Gonzales is one of their reliable and diligent partners in the House of Representatives and a great addition to the working force of Romualdez.
“We reiterate the party’s strong support to the leadership of Speaker Romualdez who is deeply committed to the well-being and progress of our nation,” he said.
“At the same time, we also reiterate our full support to President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., whose 8-point Socio-Economic Agenda guides our work as legislators,” he said.
House Minority Leader Marcelino Libanan reiterated the minority bloc’s full support to Romualdez, “who has ably steered the House in delivering unprecedented accomplishments less than a year in our terms.”
“The minority is absolutely committed to our partnership with Speaker Romualdez and the entire House leadership, as we seek common ground to swiftly create more jobs and livelihood opportunities, lift a greater number of households from poverty, and move the country forward,” he said.