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DAVAO City Rep. Prospero Nograles emerges from a caucus before the start of the fireworks on the House floor on Monday. RAFFY LERMA


(UPDATE 2) Nograles is new House Speaker

By Maila Ager
First Posted 00:59:00 02/05/2008

MANILA, Philippines � Representative Prospero Nograles of Davao City has been elected as speaker of the House of Representatives.

�It�s God�s will. It�s probably my destiny,� Nograles said minutes after he was sworn in as new speaker.

In his speech after taking his oath, Nograles thanked ousted Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., who nominated him on the floor shortly before 1:00 a.m. Tuesday.

�I�d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this vote of confidence,� Nograles sad.

�Tonight, I�d like to thank Speaker Jose de Venecia for nominating me in this position. I also wish to thank Speaker De Venecia for all the years of service that he has done in the House of Representatives,� he said.

�I accept this position with all humility. I asked myself what I�m doing here and I tell myself it�s God�s will. It�s probably destiny,� he further said.

Nograles then asked everyone to respect the vote they had taken as he also promised to address the issues raised on the floor at the proper time.

�Though there were some harsh words and some controversial issues that were raised, they will all be addressed and answered at a proper time. Not now, not tonight.�

The newly installed Speaker also said he also accepts the challenge to continue reforms in the chamber and improve its image.

Erstwhile Speaker De Venecia, who lost his position in a vote of 174 against 35, with 16 abstentions, nominated Nograles for the position of speaker.

Without a further vote and with no objections, Cebu Rep. Antonio Cuenco moved to close the nomination for Speaker, prompting Majority Leader Arthur Defensor to declare as "unanimous� the election of Nograles as speaker of the 240-member House.

Hours earlier, De Venecia anticipated his ouster in an impassioned speech and in an interview with reporters said he would join the political opposition and was declaring �war� on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

De Venecia in a 59-minute speech accused Malaca�ang of orchestrating moves to remove him as speaker.

He recounted the times he had stood to defend President Arroyo, and said, �It pains me grievously to hurt the President and to hurt the First Family because I have invested so much more than any of you in this chamber to help the President become Vice President, become President�.�

In his speech, de Venecia disclosed having knowledge of the alleged attempts to tamper with the 2004 elections but was quick to say that he would speak about it at some other time.

�I know that there were many attempts to tamper the elections in 2004 and I shall speak on this in greater length at some other opportunity,� he said.

Reporters later asked De Venecia whether his accusations against the President, members of her family and close associates were a declaration of war. He replied, �Yes.�

�I will join the opposition to denounce corruption in this administration. I will join the battle against corruption,� he said.

In his speech, De Venecia said that Malaca�ang was in "collusion" with a private lawyer who had filed several complaints against him and his son, Jose �Joey� De Venecia III, before the Ombudsman.

He was referring to lawyer Roel Pulido, who had also filed an ethics case against him at the House.

He accused the presidential palace of inaction on alleged assassination threats against him and his son, who has alleged bribe offers in connection with a contract to put up a multimillion-dollar national broadband network.

He also revealed that the Palace had control over the lawmakers� district allocations or pork barrel, which they could not get without going through the President�s sons, referring to Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo and Camarines Sur Rep. Dato Arroyo, who he said were taking advantage of the neophyte solons.

The congressmen�s share of their road users� tax to build and repair highways in their respective districts could not be released without also going through the �agents of Malaca�ang,� the ousted Speaker said.

Before ending his speech, De Venecia also identified port magnate Enrique Razon, who served as treasurer of Arroyo�s senatorial candidates last year, as having control of the pork barrel, road users� tax funds and many projects of the administration.

He described Razon as �partner in the corridors of power in Malaca�ang.�

In voting yes to declare the position of the Speaker vacant, Dato Arroyo assailed De Venecia for making the House a �chamber of deals, illicit transactions, and misused pork barrels.�

�Five terms, Mr. Speaker, five unprecedented terms under his (de Venecia�s) leadership� We were perceived as a chambers of deals, illicit transactions and misused pork barrels. Where has he taken us Mr. Speaker and where exactly are we headed?� the congressman said.

If the Speaker was sincere when he spoke of moral revolution, De Venecia should have opened the book of funds of the House to the public, the President�s son added.

Copyright 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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