‘House no place for OJT Speaker’

The next Speaker should hit the ground running to implement the legislative reforms wanted by President Rodrigo Duterte from day one of the coming 18th Congress, a returning congressman said Tuesday.

Duterte is on the second half of his term and should have good point men in Congress if he was to achieve the reforms that he envisioned, the legislator said.

Anakalusugan Party-list Rep.-elect Mike Defensor said there was no room for a candidate who could be compared to a student on on-the-job training.

Defensor said candidates for Speaker Martin Romualdez of Leyte and Alan Peter Cayetano had an edge in terms of experience and competence over their rivals that included Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco and former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

“They are all my friends and [any of them] can serve [as] Speaker. But Congressmen Martin Romualdez and Alan Cayetano have the leadership depth and the capacity to navigate the House in terms of needed legislation. They have the experience, competence and caliber to lead the members of the House,” said Defensor, who served three terms as a district congressman and later as Presidential Chief of Staff and Environment secretary during the Arroyo administration.

“The next Speaker should be Speaker from day one. He should know what to do the very minute he sits as the country’s fourth highest official of the land,” said Defensor in underscoring the urgent need to help Duterte’s efforts in pursuing structural reforms to guarantee the country’s economic takeoff.

Among the candidates, Defensor said, Romualdez had the most excellent interpersonal relationship with his colleagues as attested by the manifesto of support for him to be the next Speaker initially signed by more than 153 lawmakers.

Defensor said interpersonal relationship was very crucial in shepherding the swift passage of Duterte’s legislative measures.

“When you speak of speakership, you need to have an excellent interpersonal relationship with each and every member of the House and clearly with the mandate given to Congressman Romualdez, it goes to show his good relationship with the majority of the lawmakers,” Defensor said.

House Majority Floor Leader and Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro echoed Defensor’s observation that interpersonal relationship was a crucial character of the next Speaker.

“Martin’s character has an overwhelming edge as against the other candidates,” said Castro, president of the National Unity Party.

“And Martin initially having been benefited by the voluntary endorsement of more than 153 members of the House is something that has to be reckoned with.”

Romualdez, a banker and lawyer by profession, is president of the Philippine Constitution Association and the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.

He was the House’s Independent Bloc leader in the 16th Congress or during the Aquino administration.

Romualdez, a returning congressman who earlier completed three terms, holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from the Ivy League school in Cornell University and a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management from Harvard University. He earned his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines.

One of the laws passed by Romualdez was Republic Act 10754, which exempts more than 1.5-million people with disability from the payment of the 12-percent value added tax on certain goods and services. It was enacted during the time of President Benigno Aquino III.

Cayetano served three terms as a member of the House of Representatives, two terms as a senator, and secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

He finished his undergraduate course at the UP and at the Ateneo de Manila.

Velasco earned a degree in Bachelor of Science in Business Management from De La Salle University and completed his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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Topics: 18th Congress , Martin Romualdez , Alan Peter Cayetano , Lord Alan Velasco , Pantaleon Alvarez , Mike Defensor , House Speaker , House of Representative
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