Senators raise concerns over Arroyo’s Congress leadership

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Senator Panfilo M. Lacson -- PRIB

Senators on Tuesday, July 24, raised concerns over the leadership of Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who took over as Speaker of the House of Representatives last Monday, saying they would oppose any attempt to make the former president the Prime Minister under a new Constitution.

In a statement, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson warned that the Senate will assert its role in amending the Constitution to counter such plans.

“Regardless of whether it was Rep. Arroyo or somebody else replacing the ousted Speaker, what happened yesterday is a strong argument against a parliamentary form of government where patronage politics plays a major, if not the only, role in selecting our country’s top leader,” he said.

“If GMA’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,” he added.

For her part, Senator Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares said also opposed Ms. Arroyo’s rise to the Congress leadership, citing the condition of the country under her administration.

Hinalal ang ating pangulo dahil gusto ng tao ng pagbabago, ako rin naman gusto ko ng pagbabago pero pagbabago na makakabuti sa atin, hindi naman yung pagbabagong hihilahin pa tayo sa mas desperadong sitwasyon (We elected our President because people wanted change. I also wanted change — but it’s the kind of change that will do us good, not one that will drag us into a more desperate situation),” she added.

Ms. Llamanzares’ father, the late movie actor and presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr., lost to Ms. Arroyo in the 2004 presidential elections, which was also hounded by allegations of polls fraud.

Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito said Ms. Arroyo’s graft cases might smear the Duterte administration anti-corruption policies.

Hindi lang maganda kasi binanggit ng Pangulo kahapon ang war against drugs, he will be relentless war against drugs and corruption. Baka lang doon sa anggulo na yun hindi magandang tingnan. (It doesn’t look good because the President yesterday mentioned that he will be relentless in the war against drugs and corruption) While there are ongoing cases, si GMA (referring to Ms. Arroyo) mag-assume ng Speakership,” he told reporters.

Mr. Ejercito, whose father former President and Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada was ousted after Ms. Arroyo took over as president last 2001, also added: “We can forgive but we will never forget the sins of the past.” — Camille A. Aguinaldo