‘Acceptability’ to decide contest for speakership, say House leaders

Martin Romualdez

THE change in the House leadership last year will guide lawmakers in choosing the most acceptable, unifying and not divisive next speaker to push the reforms of the Duterte administration, especially in a free for all fight speakership race, House leaders said on Sunday.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon, Deputy Speaker and Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison, House Majority Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil “Fred” Castro, Negros Oriental Rep. Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr., and Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo all said acceptability plays a major part in deciding who should be the next speaker.

“Acceptability is very significant, after all, the candidate will be judged based on his personality and the motivation for his running. Lessons from the recent change of House leadership are material—that House members are inclined to support a leader who knows well his members and their needs and sentiments. Someone that they can always confide in without political barriers or considerations,” Leachon, who chairs the House Committee on Justice, pointed out, referring to the ouster of former Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez who was replaced by Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Earlier, House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo “Danny” Suarez bared that currently circulating is a manifesto of support from more than 153 lawmakers — and counting — for support the speakership bid of Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez which is predicated on President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte not endorsing any candidate.

“Congressman Martin is the most acceptable, competent and experienced among the candidates in the Speakership race. Martin is the congressman of the congressmen and has been enjoying the support of our colleagues,” said Suarez.

Arbison said he does not see any problem whoever will be elected as Speaker because all of them are practically allies of President Duterte and “most of the incoming congressmen are also with the President.”

But Arbison said Romualdez has “a good chance to become the Speaker if he has the majority support.”

Castro said acceptability is “very crucial if the President will leave the speakership to the choice of each and every member of the House.”

“It is also very crucial because the acceptability of the candidate to the majority of the members represents the overall and sum total of his quality and kind of leadership he has to lead the House of Representatives during his watch,” Castro explained.

Teves said the candidates for Speaker should not only be acceptable but has the support of the majority.

“Everybody is acceptable, but one has more numbers,” said Teves. “If there will be no chosen one then the one with most numbers, meaning more acceptable to more members, will have a better chance.”

In a situation where all the speakership contenders are close to President Duterte and the latter opts not to make an endorsement, Romualdo, who chairs the House Committee on Good Government and public accountability, agreed that “acceptability to the members of the House is the deciding factor that will determine who the next speaker will be.”

The other serious candidates for Speaker are Alvarez, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Earlier, Suarez and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda trumpeted Romualdez’s accomplishments and excellent leadership skills, making him the most competent and qualified candidate in the contest for the next Speaker.

Suarez and Salceda recognized Romualdez’s track record and admirable persuasion skills that would help the incoming 18th Congress back up President Duterte’s efforts in pursuing structural reforms needed to guarantee the country’s economic takeoff.

ANAC-IP Party-List Rep. Jose Panganiban Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, said Romualdez has the experience and leadership advantage compared to the other Speaker-wannabes and is the most acceptable to the overwhelming majority of their colleagues.

Panganiban said Romualdez “has the edge in leadership qualities, experience, and goodwill among House members” compared to the other candidates in the Speakership race.

Romualdez, a banker and lawyer by profession, is the president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).

He was the House Independent Bloc leader of the previous 16th Congress or during the Aquino administration.

Romualdez holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from the Ivy League school, in Cornell University, and a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management from Harvard University. He also earned his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines (UP).

One of the laws passed by Romualdez was Republic Act (RA) No. 10754, which exempts more than 1.5 million persons with disabilities (PWDs) from the payment of 12-percent value added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services. It was enacted during the time of former President Aquino.