MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – As expected, Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez was elected new Speaker of the House of Representatives on Monday, July 25, the opening of the 17th Congress.
Alvarez, a longtime ally of President Rodrigo Duterte, was nominated for the post by Quezon City 4th District Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr, who was the Speaker in the 16th Congress.
Alvarez was up against Quezon 3rd District Representative Danilo Suarez, who was nominated by Kabayan Representative Harry Roque, and also against Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat Jr, who was nominated by Northern Samar 1st District Representative Raul Daza.
Alvarez abstained from voting out of respect for his opponents, while Suarez voted for Alvarez and Baguilat voted for himself.
The Davao del Norte congressman officially clinched the speakership after getting the nod of 251 lawmakers. Baguilat received 8 votes while Suarez received 7. A total of 21 abstained, while one – Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco – had "no vote."
Alvarez abstains from voting out of respect for his opponents. 4 other reps abstained so far. Alvarez still leading pic.twitter.com/2EyR2qz3LL — Mara Cepeda (@maracepeda) July 25, 2016
The landslide victory of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) stalwart came as no surprise, with Alvarez counting 100 out of the 292 legislators in the House as his party mates.
Other parties previously signed coalition agreements with PDP-Laban to join the supermajority bloc: 35 from the Liberal Party (LP), around 50 from the Nacionalista Party (NP), 80 from the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), 40 from the National Unity Party (NUP), and 5 from Lakas-CMD. Thirty-seven party-list representatives are also supporting PDP-Laban.
Alvarez is welcomed by applause as he walks back inside plenary with his family pic.twitter.com/dH7Fv3JHT3 — Mara Cepeda (@maracepeda) July 25, 2016
The new House Deputy Speakers have been named as well. They are as follows:
They will be tasked to assume the powers and responsibilities of Alvarez in case of absences or temporary incapacity by the Speaker.
Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Rudy Fariñas is the new Majority Floor Leader, which also means he is the chairman of the powerful Committee on Rules.
Lawyer Cesar Pareja is the new House Secretary General while retired general Roland Detabali is Sergeant-at-Arms.
The first regular session of the House of Representatives adjourned without a clear minority leader.
By tradition, the runner-up for House Speaker – in this case, Baguilat – becomes Minority Leader. But the Ifugao congressman said in a post on Twitter that they "changed the rules."
If we follow old rules n by tradition, 8 votes are enough to make me minority floor leader. But they changed the rules. So many abstentions. — Teddy B. Baguilat (@Teddy_Baguilat) July 25, 2016 As far as I know, I'm d minority floor leader. But well, it's a strange world... — Teddy B. Baguilat (@Teddy_Baguilat) July 25, 2016