FORMER President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is not only free to go to Congress as representative of Pampanga, she could also get to bang the gavel.
Arroyo on Wednesday announced she had been nominated by fellow Central Luzon lawmakers as deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives.
“I’m deputy speaker,” she told reporters when asked what role she would play in the House.
Arroyo, who is on her third term as congresswoman of Pampanga’s second district, was at the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City with her husband Jose Miguel to donate two dialysis machines and an air-conditioning unit.
“I would presume that nobody will object,” Arroyo said when asked if her designation was final.
The House plans to name 12 deputy speakers, roughly corresponding to Speaker Pantaleon
Alvarez’s envisioned 11 federal states and an independent capital. Alvarez earlier said this would be a dry run of sorts ahead of a planned shift to a federal form of government through Charter change.
There are already five deputy speakers representing each political party in the “Super Majority” coalition: Ilocos Norte Rep. Eric Singson (PDP-Laban), Negros Occidental Rep. Mercedes Alvarez (Nationalist People’s Coalition), Batangas Rep. Raneo Abu (Nacionalista Party), Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro (National Unity Party), and Marikina Rep. Romero Quimbo (Liberal Party).
Deputy speakers are the second-highest ranking officials of the House of Representatives and preside over Congress in the absence of the Speaker, among other duties and powers. They are also automatic members of all House committees.
Asked to comment on several issues, Arroyo replied: “My general direction is to support the administrative agenda of the President.”
“I am not the Chief Executive anymore. So it is not for me to dictate national policy. So that’s why if you ask me a specific question, I will answer the same general answer,” she said.
Arroyo on Wednesday returned as a free woman to the VMMC, where she was detained for four years while being tried for a P366-million plunder case involving alleged misuse of Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office funds during her presidency.
She was released from hospital arrest following the Supreme Court’s ruling that dismissed the case last month for lack of evidence.
The Arroyos signed a deed of donation for medical equipment for the state-run VMMC’s renal dialysis unit on Wednesday.
“Today is an auspicious day for us because today is the birthday of my mother Lourdes Tuason Arroyo and that’s why today we had a lot of activities,” said the former First Gentleman, Jose Miguel Arroyo, in a speech.
Mr. Arroyo, who came on behalf of the Lourdes Tuason de Arroyo Foundation, summarized the foundation’s charitable activities with the acronym “IKAW,” which stands for Ipin, Kalusugan, Aral, Wheelchairs (Teeth, Health, Study, Wheelchairs).
He said the foundation provides scholarships in honor of his mother.
“We are also giving Kalusugan, we are also giving things that can help in the health of the people and now we will arrange for wheelchairs to be given,” he said.