A HOUSE leader said yesterday Leyte Rep. Martin 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.
But while the Palace has said the President is not meddling in the Speakership race, ANAC-IP Party-List Rep. Jose Panganiban Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, lamented that many lawmakers will support whoever will be chosen by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte even if the candidate is perceived weak.
“[The biggest trump card is] closeness to the president, unfortunately,” Panganiban lamented.
“The congressmen will always abide even if the pick of the President is the weakest choice,” Panganiban responded should President Duterte decide to pick his candidate.
Well-placed sources bared that President Duterte met three candidates – Romualdez, Reps. Lord Allan Velasco of Marinduque and Alan Peter Cayetano of Taguig – in Japan where they discussed the speakership race, but did not give a commitment to any of them.
This was consistent with President Duterte’s speech before his Japan trip that he will not meddle in the Speakership fight.
Panganiban said Romualdez, president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD), “has the edge in leadership qualities, experience, and goodwill among House members” compared to the other candidates in the Speakership race.
Romualdez, head of the House Independent Bloc in the previous 16th Congress, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the Ivy League school, 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.
Earlier, House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo “Danny” Suarez said Romualdez is a sure winner in the Speakership race following the declaration of President Duterte that he will let lawmakers elect its leader.
“Kung walang influence ang Palasyo, I think may number na si Martin para maging Speaker. Siya ang paborito ng mga kongresista dahil sensitive siya at may compassion. May subok na kakayahan at leadership,” said Suarez.
Earlier, Suarez bared that Romualdez’s manifesto of support reached the “magic number” or more than 153, which is enough to win the Speakership race.
Suarez said more than 153 congressmen have already signed the manifesto of support for Romualdez, a clear indication that he is the emerging favorite candidate of incoming congressmen.
He reiterated that Romualdez is the most qualified candidate for Speaker given his track record in public service, apart from the fact that he is a lawyer and a banker.
Meanwhile Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda welcomed the entry of Romualdez in the Speakership race for the 18th Congress, saying the House of Representatives needs a leader who will push for the passage of President Duterte’s priority economic measures.
“Rep. Romualdez’s decision to join the Speakership derby is a welcome development as far as the country’s economic managers and business leaders are concerned. Rep. Romualdez as Speaker is good for the economy,” said Salceda, who is senior vice-chair of the House committee on ways and means.
Salceda said Romualdez’s knowledge and vast experience in the financial markets and the field of economics would help expedite the enactment into laws of President Duterte’s economic reform agenda.