Leyte Rep.-elect Martin Romualdez has assured President Rodrigo Duterte of a united House of Representatives that will speed up the passage of all his priority bills, especially the 2020 national budget, and address the funding requirement of his flagship projects including the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program.
“I took the opportunity to report to him what was discussed and agreed upon by the multi-party caucus hours ago. I assured him of a united House of Representatives,” Romualdez said.
Romualdez, president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats and Philippine Constitution Association, is a “serious and strong” contender for the House speakership in the upcoming 18th Congress.
“I told the President that my fellow congressmen, even before Congress opens session on July 22, have begun working on the measures that need to be discussed as soon as possible,” he said.
He made the assurance in a private dinner with the President and Senator-elect Christopher Go shortly after they attended Wednesday night’s 122nd anniversary celebration of the Presidential Security Group in Malacañang.
Earlier, Romualdez also called for a multi-party caucus to discuss what congressional leaders from all political parties and influential blocs would want to prioritize in the 18th Congress.
The first of the series of caucuses, which was held at Seda Vertis Hotel in Quezon City, drew the attendance of 40 congressional leaders representing PDP-Laban, Lakas-CMD, National Unity Party, Nacionalista Party, Liberal Party, and the Party-List Coalition.
“The congressional leaders are unanimous in saying that the 18th Congress will be a real working partner of President Duterte and the executive department. All have vowed to work double-time to shepherd the approval of the President’s legislative agenda,” Romualdez said.
“They have also agreed to set aside politics and pool resources to provide adequate funding for the President’s pet programs and projects that have a direct impact on our people’s lives. This includes the ambitious Build, Build, Build program which the President want completed and set in place before the end of his term in 2022.”
According to Romualdez, he told the President in his report that the approval on time of the proposed 2020 national budget remained on top of the 18th Congress’ priorities.
“I informed the President that House leaders have already established a reliable communication line with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and other economic managers to ensure that the 2020 national budget will be approved before the end of the year,” Romualdez said.
Meanwhile, a reelected lawmaker on Thursday urged the leaders of political parties to liberate legislators from the rigid party stand in choosing the Speaker for the coming 18th Congress.
Bulacan Rep. Rida Robes said they needed to cast their “conscience vote” to elect a House leader who could truly represent the Filipino people.
Robes, a member of the ruling Partido Demokratiko-Lakas ng Bayan, backed the speakership bid of Romualdez.
“I am appealing to all leaders of political parties. Let democracy reign in the House of Representatives and give us the freedom to choose our own Speaker. We have to allow the congressmen to cast their conscience vote if we are to elect a House leader who is truly representative of the Filipino people’s will,” she said.
Former House Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, for his part, is blaming the absence of a consultation of the PDP-Laban in its decision to back the speakership bid of Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Alvarez dismissed the claim of Senators Aquilino Pimentel, the party’s president, and Manny Pacquiao that PDP-Laban members had been consulted.
Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor likewise maintained there was no consultation made when 1-Pacman Rep. Mikee Romero, representing the 54-strong Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc., signed a manifesto of support for Velasco.
Defensor backed Romualdez, saying most of their colleagues had already signed a manifesto of support for him.
READ: Rody neutral on Speaker betREAD: Duterte sets June 28 decision on new SpeakerREAD: ‘House no place for OJT Speaker’READ: Taguig solon suiting up for Speaker role?READ: Rody leaves Speaker bet hanging
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