House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez is set to work on strengthening the unity and bond of the lower chamber’s members ahead of the expected heavy but vital tasks of the incoming 19th Congress.
Romualdez, the leading contender for House Speaker, revealed this during his luncheon meeting with Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) stalwarts Thursday at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel in Mandaluyong City.
Discussed during the meeting was the lawmakers’ intention to fully support the would-be legislative agenda of presumptive President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
“This is truly the message of the UniTeam during the campaign period,” Romualdez said during an ambush interview.
One of the key measures to be tackled by the 19th Congress—two months before its official opening on July 25— is postponing the upcoming barangay elections in December to save funds for a renamed stimulus bill, he added.
Romualdez said: “That is one of the complaints of the barangay chairpersons that we met in Liga ng mga Barangay, so we shall consider that.”
He added: “If that will be taken up, it should be immediate because the barangay elections are already scheduled in December. We should also put that under the priority list under consideration.”
During the campaign, Marcos Jr. said he planned to revisit the term periods of officials in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan, the smallest political units in the country, should he become the next president.
He said barangay and SK terms could be fixed at five years instead of the current three years.
The barangay elections have been postponed thrice since 2016, with the last law moving the polls to December 2022.
Romualdez, who was Marcos Jr.’s campaign manager, said postponing the barangay polls would give the government more than P8 billion in savings that could fund a stimulus package.
He said the stimulus package “would allow the incoming president to harness the resources available to him during this closing period of 2022 and address the measure that are needed for the pandemic, hopefully, the endemic stage of this COVID.”
The Department of Interior and Local Government said the decision to postpone the barangay elections for 2022 would be up to the next administration.
“The DILG will leave it to the wisdom of the incoming Congress and President if they will enact a law postponing the barangay and SK [Sangguniang Kabataan] election,” DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told GMA News Online in a message.
“Otherwise, it would be held as scheduled in December 2022,” he added.
“So, we are looking forward to working together, bonding together in helping [the] incoming administration and his spirit, his message, his reason for a united Philippines,” added Romualdez, the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) President, referring to Marcos.
Based on unofficial results of the May 9 polls, “BBM” gained a rare majority mandate among Filipinos to the tune of 31 million votes.
Romualdez also disclosed in the same interview plans to craft a stimulus package that would help the country wade through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic this year and possibly beyond, which will be dubbed the “Bayan Bangon Muli” bill or BBM bill.
“It will allow the incoming President to harness the resources available to him during this closing period of 2022 and address the measures that are needed for the pandemic, hopefully endemic, stage of this COVID issue, and of course to harness whatever remaining resources to stimulate the economy and to reinvigorate it for the betterment of all,” he explained.
Marcos’ mandate, coupled with Romualdez’s widespread backing in the House, is expected to result in the smooth and timely passage of the BBM bill and other needed measures.
Romualdez said: “We’re looking for a united and a very, very strong 19th Congress. In unity there is strength that they say that means we will have a political will to do what is right by the Filipino people.
We have to address the needs of all Filipinos and we will be the House of the People and that unity is something that we can be very proud of.”
“When we are all happy working hard together, we can achieve everything that we need to do.”