Lawmaker sees Sara-GMA alliance gaining support from ex-President Duterte

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 22) — A lawmaker said the alliance of Vice President Sara Duterte and Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo could possibly gain the support of former President Rodrigo Duterte as members of the lower house take sides amid a suspected coup against the House of Representatives’ leadership.

“I think the alliance between GMA and Vice President Duterte continues and it is possible that it could get the support of the former President Rodrigo Duterte who has still residual influence in Philippine politics,” Albay 1st District Rep. and Liberal Party president Edcel Lagman told CNN Philippines’ The Source on Monday.

A day after Arroyo was replaced as senior deputy speaker, the vice president announced her irrevocable resignation as member of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD), the ruling political party in the House. 

She did not provide a specific reason, but hinted at "powerplay" as the rationale behind it.

Meanwhile, Arroyo has denied reports linking her to alleged plans to oust House Speaker Martin Romualdez following her demotion. 

Arroyo and Vice President Duterte have been long-time allies. The two were believed to be behind the move to oust then-House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in 2018. 

Former President Rodrigo Duterte confirmed this in October the same year, saying it was his daughter, then Davao City Mayor, who moved to unseat Alvarez from his post. 

Lagman said he now sees alliances forming, with the vice president and Arroyo in one team, and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Romualdez in another.

“It’s now a combat, so to speak, between Speaker Romualdez and President Marcos Jr. versus the partnership of the vice president and former president GMA and possibly with the support of Sara’s father, former President Rodrigo Duterte,” he noted.

The opposition leader said he also expects more resignations by loyalists of Arroyo and Vice President Duterte from Lakas-CMD.

Lagman said he believes Arroyo may be also planning a counteroffensive as he sees she will not accept the “humiliating demotion lying down.”