President Rodrigo Duterte’s hands-off policy in the election of Speaker of the House has cemented the win of Rep.-elect. Martin Romualdez, House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said Thursday.
“If the Palace will not intervene, I think Martin has enough numbers to be elected as Speaker. He is the most popular among congressmen because he is sensitive to the needs of his fellow legislators as well as his malasakit [public service with a heart] governance. His leadership has been tried and tested,” Suarez said.
House Majority Leader Fred Castro echoed Suarez’s view.
“Why should I doubt the words of the President? Because he is the President and being the President, we have to believe what he says, otherwise who else [is there] to believe?” Castro said.
Earlier, Suarez said a manifesto of support for Romualdez has reached the “magic number” of more than 153 signatories needed to win the post.
“It is enough to win. The magic number is 153 and I think he has more than [that],” Suarez said.
A party-list lawmaker, meanwhile, said party-list groups will play a crucial role in the election of the next Speaker, as they now constitute the second biggest bloc in the House.
Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles, in an interview over the television talk show “Agenda,” said there are 54 members of the Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. now headed by 1Pacman Party-list Rep. Mikee Romero. This makes it the second biggest bloc in the House, next to PDP-Laban’s 95, he said.
At the same time, Nograles pooh-poohed the allegation of ousted Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez that lawmakers are being offered as much as P500,000 for their vote in the speakership race.
“No one has tried to buy my vote,” Nograles said.
Of the 302 members of the House of Representatives, 95 are PDP-Laban, 54 are PCFI, 37 are members of the Nacionalista Party (NP), 33 are members of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC), 28 are from the National Unity Party (NUP), 18 are from the Liberal Party (LP), five are Lakas-NUCD, six are from the Makabayan bloc, and the remaining 16 belong to other parties, or are independents.
Nograles said if PCFI will act as one bloc in the event of a free-for-all in the fight for the speakership.
He said the group has not adopted any position yet, however.
“The work of the Speaker is to prepare the legislative agenda of the House of Representatives. Personally, I would want a Speaker who would support the legislative agenda of my partylist and so far, no one has presented their legislative agenda,” Nograles said.
The race for the House speakership is crucial in pushing the President’s legislative agenda, said political science Professor Ranjit Rye of the University of the Philippines.
“The Speakership race is crucial to the life of the nation because the President has already spoken that he will have an ambitious legislative agenda in his last three years,” Rye said.
Rye said Malacañang should support a candidate for the House speakership race who can influence the Senate.
“It’s important that Malacañang support a candidate that is not just competent, not just experienced, but will have the gravitas to lead both the House and have influence on the Senate because of that person’s personality and capability,” he said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier said the President will not meddle in the selection of the next Speaker of the House of Representatives.
Rye said an experienced legislator should be preferred in the speakership race for stability.
“Not a neophyte, but somebody who has actual experience because winning the Speakership is one thing, reigning in the House is another,” he said. With PNAREAD: ‘Romualdez wins over 153 solons’READ: With the PresidentREAD: ‘Romualdez can boost Duterte’s economic plans’
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