"The President might make his choice known as early as next week."
As rumors swirl that President Rodrigo Duterte might make known his choice for the Speakership by next week, sources have revealed that the President’s choice has narrowed down to two and that he is actually torn between the two lawmakers—Leyte Congressman Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Marinduque Congressman Lord Allan Velasco.
While the latter has reportedly gained the trust of presidential daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte having actively participated in the campaign sorties of Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial candidates, political pundits have noted that more than his credentials in governance and legislation, Romualdez may have one more ace that could propel him to the Speakership post. He is a political operator who has proven himself as a trusted ally who can deliver votes for whoever Duterte wants elected in office.
This is exemplified by the case of Senator-elect Christopher “Bong” Go who, everyone knows, is the President’s number one choice in the 2019 senatorial race. Early in the race, nobody gave Go a Chinaman’s chance to win the senatorial race. But contrary to the opposition’s expectation, Go not only won as senator but landed in the top six of the 12-man pack.
In Romualdez’s bailiwicks, Go won big with the 1st District of Leyte giving him the 4th spot with 104,159 votes. Bong Go also landed 2nd in Leyte province with 327,294 votes; and 3rd in Region 8 with 850,415 votes.
In Velasco’s home province, Bong Go only landed a poor 10th with 35,710 votes. Rep. Cayetano also paled in comparison to Rep. Romualdez, with Bong Go taking the 6th spot in Pateros with 12,163 votes and 4th spot in Taguig with 161,596 votes.
As president of Lakas-CMD, Romualdez also delivered big wins for Go not only in his home province and Eastern Visayas but in other bailiwicks of the once-mighty ruling party such as Quezon province.
Duterte has proven himself to be a brilliant chess player and a great tactician in political wars. He may eventually choose a Speakership bet who can deliver votes for whoever his anointed successor is in 2022.
As a sportsman, President Duterte knows the value of a wild card. But what is it in sports?
A wild card is a tournament or playoff berth awarded to an individual or team that fails to qualify in the normal way, for example by having a high-ranking or winning a qualifying stage. In some events, wild cards are chosen freely by the organizers.
In politics, this may mean a candidate not from your political party but one who can definitely deliver the votes needed to win elections.
Who knows? Ferdinand Martin Romualdez may yet turn out to be Duterte’s wild card.
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What really happened in Recto Bank?
Sources have bared to this writer that at any moment they will be acquiring revealing photos of the Recto Bank incident which could help determine what really transpired—whether the collision was an accident, or whether it was intentional or even staged.
The Chinese have claimed they were being besieged by at least seven to eight Filipino fishing boats which prevented them from rescuing the crew of the Filipino fishing vessel which they claim to have accidentally rammed.
The Filipinos claim otherwise, saying they were abandoned by the Chinese vessel, stayed afloat on water until a Vietnamese boat had to rescue them. But while the Filipinos insist their boat sank, there were reports they reached the port of Mindoro Oriental with their catch intact. Photos even showed a minor damage to their boat.
Another puzzling account is if, as the Chinese claim, there were at least seven to eight Filipino boats in the area, how come they had to wait for a Vietnamese boat to rescue them?
One positive development is that the Chinese have opened up to the idea of a joint investigation on the matter.
In a press briefing Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang made known the Chinese position on the joint investigation, which President Rodrigo Duterte had earlier ruled out saying the Philippine government could not compel China on such course of action.
“I’d like to reiterate that China attaches great importance to friendly relations with the Philippines and safety of personnel at sea, regardless of nationality. We will continue to investigate the incident thoroughly and communicate with the Philippine side via bilateral channels,” Lu said.
“To find a proper solution, we suggest a joint investigation at an early date so the two sides can exchange respective initial findings and properly handle the matter through friendly consultations based on mutually-recognized investigation results,” he added.