By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte poked fun at his closest chums in the House of Representatives Thursday night as he quelled old rumors that Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will be taking the place of Pantaleon Alvarez as House Speaker.
Duterte, in a speech at a dinner concert in Pasay City Thursday night, said that Alvarez can relax as the former President is not interested in the post.
“Mukhang si Speaker [Alvarez] matamlay. Sabi ni Ma’am [Arroyo] (It seems like Speaker Alvarez is not in the mood), ‘Sabihin mo sa kaibigan mo na wala akong ambisyon maging (Tell your friend that I have no ambition of becoming the) Speaker. He can rest,'” Duterte said.
Arroyo, who turned 71 on April 5, had previously said that she was not interested in becoming the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Talks of Arroyo replacing Alvarez surfaced when Alvarez got involved in a spat with Davao del Norte Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr., whom Alvarez sued for graft before the Ombudsman over an anomalous deal.
Arroyo was Deputy Speaker but was replaced due to her opposition to the measure that seeks to reimpose capital punishment for heinous crimes.
“We will have to replace her as deputy speaker,” Alvarez said February last year, adding that he remains firm in his stand that House leaders who cannot support the measure will be replaced.
Arroyo has maintained her stand against death penalty since signing Republic Act 9346, the law which abolished capital punishment, in 2006 when she was still President.
The Pampanga Representative said she had raised her opposition to the measure to Duterte and that the President said that it was all right with him.
President Duterte has been pushing for the restoration of capital punishment in the country. However, the public has criticized the Congress after the House Majority bloc decided to exclude plunder, rape, and treason from the list of the crimes punishable by death.