REPRESENTATIVE Ma. Isabelle Climaco-Salazar of Zamboanga City's first district was elected as House Deputy Speaker for Mindanao.

Salazar was unanimously voted to occupy the position Monday a few hours before President Benigno Aquino III delivered his first State of the Nation Address (Sona) before the joint session of Congress.

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A total of 258 members were present in the session that opened at 10 a.m.

Salazar occupies the position alone unlike the House Deputy Speakers for Luzon and Visayas that are shared by at least two to three legislators from the respective areas.

Representatives Lorenzo Tanada III and Crispin Remulla share the position as Deputy Speaker for Luzon while Congressmen Arnulfo Fuentebella, Pablo Garcia, and Raul Daza are the House Deputy Speakers for Visayas.

Salazar was also chosen to chair the House Committee on Women.

Salazar assumes the duties and powers of the House Speaker if chosen by a majority vote in cases of absence or temporary incapacity of the Speaker, until such time that the Speaker returns; and in case of resignation, removal, permanent incapacity, or death of the Speaker, until such time that a new Speaker is elected and qualified.

She can also preside over the session when, even if present, the Speaker does not preside, or has not designated any other member as temporary presiding officer; and to monitor, coordinate and facilitate action on measures filed, requests, and other concerns of members representing constituencies.

Salazar is also empowered to recommend to the Speaker appropriate policies, strategies, and programs of action to improve the process of legislation and the quality of legislative measures, and to effectively address concerns of members on matters affecting them, their constituencies, and the overall operations and integrity of the House.

She can also appoint personnel of the House when so authorized by the Speaker; and to perform such other duties and functions as may be assigned and/or delegated by the Speaker.

As a deputy speaker, she is ex-officio member in all House committees.

Salazar took her oath before elected House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. (Bong Garcia)