'Black propaganda': Arroyo denies eyeing Prime Minister post

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Pampanga (CNN Philippines, July 27) — House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Friday denied allegations she is eyeing a Prime Minister's post if the country adopts a new form of government through charter change.

She dismissed the allegations of some senators as black propaganda. She added that under the proposed federal charter by the Consultative Committee, there is no provision for a Prime Minister post.

"To begin with, the proposed constitution is presidential federal. That's black propaganda," she said as she returned to her home province in Pampanga.

Although the committee formed by President Rodrigo Duterte proposes a federal-presidential system of government, Congress may decide to adopt or reject it amid their plans to convene as a constituent assembly in amending the charter.

Arroyo's political party PDP-Laban earlier proposed the shift to a parliamentary government. In the draft constitution of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendment, there are two leaders of the executive department: The president, who oversees the government, and the prime minister, who runs the government.

Senator Ping Lacson gave a stern warning that Arroyo's speakership may be a "prelude" to her becoming a prime minister, should there be a change in the constitution.

Meanwhile, Senator Grace Poe urged the public to remain vigilant upon Arroyo's return to power. She said Congress may  "railroad" the charter change to shift to a parliamentary form of government.

"Sa ating mga kababayan, maghanda lang kayo," Poe warned. "Pagka-ang mga namuno sa Kongreso ay i-railroad itong (charter change) at gawing parliamentary form, maaaring magising na lang kayo, either patas ang kapangyarihan (niya) sa pangulong binoto ninyo, o siya na ang magte-take over bilang Prime Minister," she said.

[Translation: To our countrymen, be ready. If the heads of Congress railroad (charter change) and convert government to parliamentary form, you might wake up to (those people) holding equal powers as the President, or ready to take over as Prime Minister.]

Arroyo on Tuesday said the House of Representatives will wait for the Senate's decision on changing the Constitution to allow for a shift to a federal form of government.

No to 'no-el'

Arroyo, who is serving her third and final term as Pampanga representative, said she is against the postponement of the 2019 midterm elections.

"No. Definitely i am not supporting term extension," she said.

Ousted House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier proposed to scrap the 2019 midterm elections and just extend the terms of incumbent officials. He wanted Congress to pass a law that will move the 2019 polls to 2022 so that lawmakers can focus on drafting a new constitution.

Several lawmakers and even Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque surmised that Alvarez's push for no elections was one of the reasons why he was ousted as House Speaker on July 23.