MANILA, Philippines — A leadership row erupted in the Philippine House of Representatives on live TV Monday, delaying for an hour President Rodrigo Duterte’s delivery of his annual state of the nation address and passage of crucial Muslim autonomy legislation aimed at ending one of Asia’s longest Islamic rebellions.

As Duterte arrived on a helicopter in the congressional complex, Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, backed by dozens of allied legislators, took the main seat in the center stage of the House’s plenary hall in a sign that she was taking over the post of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his third State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Quezon city, metropolitan Manila, Philippines on Monday.

Arroyo, a former president, tried to speak from the stage during the dramatic standoff but her microphone was turned off. She tried to yell, apparently to explain what was happening, but later stepped down from the stage, waving at the crowd.

Alvarez, along with Senate President Vicente Sotto III, fetched Duterte and led the visibly confused leader to a holding room as the dispute over House leadership unfolded in the chamber, which was packed with dignitaries. Alvarez and Arroyo are close Duterte supporters in the 292-member House, which is largely dominated by the president’s allies.

“They chose to disrespect their own president and attend to their own ambitions in full view of the nation. For almost an hour, it seemed that nobody was in control,” opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros said.

“This is the true state of the nation. It is petty infighting, backstabbing, and brinkmanship, all done at the people’s expense,” Hontiveros said.

Others called the squabble a “circus” that bared a deep crack in Duterte’s ruling coalition. Ultimately, Alvarez was allowed to lead the joint session, but Arroyo was sworn in late Monday as the new House speaker.

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