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House of Representatives opens session ahead of Sona 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives opened its first regular session of the 18th Congress at 10:00 a.m. Monday, ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth State of the Nation Address (Sona).

The chamber dominated by pro-administration lawmakers is set to elect its new speaker during the session as provided for in Article VI, Sections 15 and 16 of the 1987 Constitution.

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In accordance with the rules of the 17th Congress, House Acting Secretary General Dante Roberto Maling would preside over the inaugural session until the new House leader is elected.

The rules further mandate that the Speaker shall be elected by a majority vote of all the members through a roll call vote without explanation.

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An oath-taking of the newly-elected speaker will follow.

At 4:00 p.m., the Senate and the House will convene in a joint session to hear the President’s annual Sona.

This year, the House leadership row also made headlines as allies of the President fight to get the top post in the chamber, and the fourth-highest elected post in government.

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Duterte has endorsed the term-sharing of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, but the President’s son, Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte hinted at a looming coup.

This fueled speculations that his group, “Duterte Coalition” would insist on installing as Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab as speaker.

READ: Paolo Duterte says speaker race far from over, hints at looming coup

On Friday, however, Cayetano said the younger Duterte already agreed to become deputy speaker for political affairs.

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17th Congress 

In the past Congress or from July 25, 2016 to June 4, 2019, the House of Representatives processed 4,682 measures, 1,399 of which were approved during the chamber’s 236 session days.

The House was under the leadership of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez during the first and second regular sessions while former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was speaker and led the third regular session.

Overall, 383 measures were enacted into law by the chamber as of June 4, 2019.

These include 120 national bills, 259 local bills, and four joint resolutions. /gsg

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