AN excellent choice.
This was how political analyst Ramon Casiple on Tuesday described President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s preference for consensus builder House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep. Martin G. Romualdez to be his vice presidential bet, adding that it is and a good start for Romualdez to rebuild the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).
Casiple said Romualdez, president of the Lakas-CMD, will provide balance to Duterte’s Mindanao bailiwick, explaining the Majority Leader has been known to have a strong influence in Luzon and Visayas.
The political analyst added that Romualdez also has influence in the national level of the political arena being the president of the once strongest political party, Lakas-CMD.
“It is an excellent choice considering Romualdez has influence in Luzon and Visayas, as well as national,” said Casiple.
“Puwede,” Casiple added when asked if Lakas-CMD can benefit from the Duterte’s virtual endorsement of Romualdez as his vice presidential bet.
Earlier, former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano confirmed that Romualdez is Duterte’s preferred vice presidential bet in the 2022 presidential elections.
Cayetano, a congressman representing Taguig City-Pateros, said he first heard of the President’s offer in one of their meetings during the speakership fight.
”’Yun naman ang sinabi niya (President Duterte) noong nag-usap kaming tatlo (Cayetano, Romualdez and Speaker Lord Allan Velasco) from the start,” Cayetano told reporters in an ambush interview after ACT-CIS party-list Rep. Eric Yap, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, confirmed that Duterte voiced out once again his preference for Romualdez as his vice presidential candidate during the signing of the P4.5 trillion national budget for 2021 in Malacañang last December 28.
“That day na nag-usap kaming tatlo na may term sharing, hindi siguro lumabas sa news ‘yun pero ‘yun ang kasama sa usapan [na vice presidential bet si Martin],” Cayetano said.
The President said he was impressed with Romualdez’s sterling performance in steering the administration’s legislative agenda for the past two years despite the intramurals for speakership in the House of Representatives.
“The President is a good judge of character naman, but it’s really up to the people and as you know, I worked well with Martin so I wish him well kung ano man ang tatakbuhin niya,” Cayetano stressed.
Cayetano also credited the excellent work ethic of Romualdez behind the passage of Duterte’s legislative agenda and other priority measures bills that are vital to national survival amid coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Martin is a good person, napakasipag. Nakatulong ng husto sa Kongreso at sa pandemic. Hindi nagtago ‘yan, pumapasok parati. So I wish him well kung ano man ang tatakbuhin niya,” Cayetano said.
In the fight for speakership during the opening of the 18th Congress, Romualdez has given way to Cayetano and Velasco upon the prodding of Duterte who wanted him to be the Majority Leader under the so-called “Magellan Formula.”
It was in that meeting with Cayetano and Velasco that Duterte first broached the idea of supporting Romualdez as his chosen candidate for vice president in the 2022 elections.
The President reiterated his choice for Romualdez to be the vice presidential candidate when Cayetano and Velasco sought a meeting with the Chief Executive to settle the speakership row last October.
The President has repeatedly voiced out his preference for Romualdez as vice presidential bet in a series of private meetings with senators and congressmen, the latest of which took place during the signing of the 2021 General Appropriations Act (GAA) in Malacanang last December 28.
Those who heard the President endorse Romualdez for the VP slot noted that the Chief Executive was serious in promoting the House Majority Leader as his chosen candidate.
Also present in that meeting were Senate President Vicente “Tito” III, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Sen. Bong Go,Deputy Speaker Abraham Tolentino, House Minority Leader Stephen Paduano, and Yap.
When the President again mentioned the name of Romualdez as his vice presidential bet in the December 28 Malacañang meeting, those present were convinced that the Chief Executive had already made up his mind.