Romualdez best bet—poll

Most preferred choice for Speaker with 30% survey rating

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez topped the list of candidates for Speaker of the House of Representatives, according to a survey released by the RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc. on Thursday.

Romualdez best bet—poll
THE HANDS HAVE IT. Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez (left), strong contender for the House Speaker post, shakes hand with US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim during the 243rd American Independence Day Anniversary Celebration Wednesday at the Makati Shangrila Hotel in Makati City. Kim assured Romualdez ties between Washington and Manila will remain strong. Ver Noveno
The non-commissioned nationwide survey conducted from June 26 to 30 showed that Romualdez is the preferred choice with 30 percent; followed by Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, 23 percent; former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, 18 percent; and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, 14 percent.

In Luzon, Romualdez ranked number one with 31 percent; followed by Cayetano, 25 percent; Alvarez, 18 percent; and Velasco, 11 percent.

In the Visayas, Romualdez also received strong support with 35 percent; followed by Cayetano with 21 percent; then Velasco with 19 percent; and Alvarez with 16 percent.

In Mindanao, Romualdez ranked first with 23 percent while Alvarez rated at 20 percent. Cayetano got 15 percent and almost tied with Velasco who garnered 14 percent.

In the National Capital Region, Cayetano ranked first with 33 percent; followed by Romualdez, 27 percent; Alvarez, 15 percent and Velasco, 12 percent.

The survey was conducted with 3,500 registered voters nationwide with a +/- 3 percent margin of error.

The respondents were asked—”If given the chance that your voice will be heard by your District Representative, among the list of contenders who will you vote for as the next Speaker of the House of Representatives?” The respondents were also asked why they chose that particular contender.

Several respondents said they chose Romualdez because of his long experience, loyalty, and strong leadership.

The survey was conducted late last month when the names of Paolo Duterte, son of President Rodrigo Duterte, and Isidro Ungab had not yet been reported or announced as aspirants for the same position.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago had announced it is fielding its own candidate for speaker following the announcement of her brother that he will join the race “to unify” Congress.

The regional party of Sara Duterte said it would support Ungab as Speaker.

Paul Martinez of RP - Mission and Development Foundation Inc. said the incoming members of the House of Representatives in the 18th Congress are in political turmoil and “we feel that it is our obligation to gauge their constituents, hoping that their representatives will listen to their voice, after all, they represent their constituents.”

Romualdez earlier said he would await President Rodrigo Duterte’s final word on the matter of the speakership.

“In fact, the President told us, the speakership candidates, that he would not meddle in the race and assured us also that he will not secretly pass on any order to support a candidate,” Romualdez said.

Party-list Rep. Michael Defensor of Anak Kalusugan on Thursday criticized term sharing agreements among aspirants who would not get a chance to get elected that reported term-sharing agreement arranged by certain Cabinet members.

“They should do term sharing themselves,” Defensor said in a news forum, referring to the Cabinet officials.

Rep. Fredenil Castro of Capiz said Cabinet officials should respect President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that he will keep his hands off as far as the speakership is concerned, and leave the choice for the next speaker to the members of the House of Representatives.

“If the interference is to subvert the statement of the President that he will not interfere in the selection of the speakership, I think there is something wrong with that,” he said in a media forum Thursday.

“A Cabinet member should support the statement of the President,” Castro added.

Two senior pro-administration congressmen at the same time chided members of the Cabinet for violating the constitutional mandate of separation of powers by meddling into the speakership.

Outgoing Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said Cabinet officials supported term-sharing for the speakership because they want a House leader who can protect alleged budgetary improprieties like those uncovered by congressmen in the 2019 budget bill.

“The Cabinet has no business whatsoever to meddle in the affairs of the House. We should respect the independence of the three institutions of democracy –the executive, legislative and the judiciary,” Atienza said.

Atienza aired suspicions “that the Cabinet maneuverings for the speakership were aimed at supporting Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano’s bid to become the next speaker.”

Earlier, Paolo Duterte also hinted at interference by Cabinet members.

Rep. Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur, a PDP-Laban stalwart echoed Atienza’s view.

“Congress has never interfered in the work of the executive branch. Why should they meddle in our affairs?” he said.

Pimentel said the President’s Cabinet should “respect the independence of the legislative branch.”

“Let us settle the speakership issue among ourselves,” he said.

Reports said some Cabinet members, a few of whom belong to the economic cluster, are pushing for the implementation of the term-sharing scheme that will give Cayetano the first 15 months of the 18th Congress to sit as Speaker.

Defensor cautioned his fellow lawmakers against term sharing deals as this curtain the freedom of congressmen to elect their leader in accordance with their conscience.

Even President Duterte, when he was still congressman, shunned political deals a voted according to his conscience when he cast his vote for then Rep. Joker Arroyo as Speaker, Defensor said.

“In 1998, President Rodrigo Duterte was one of only five who voted for Joker Arroyo. There was no concession nor promise of anything for his vote. In fact, Joker lost and those who voted including then congressman and now President Duterte stood proud among his peers,” Defensor said.

“I will follow his example and vote according to my conscience and belief of who will be the best for the Filipino nation. No deal nor arrangement can influence my stand,” Defensor added.

Defensor issued his statement following the announcement of Senator Aquilino Pimentel III that the PDP-Laban Party will opt for a term sharing deal if their party-mate Rep. Lord Allan Velasco will be the first to hold the top House position.

But Defensor, who supports the speakership bid of Romualdez, said the majority of congressmen, even those from PDP-Laban, prefer to be given the freedom to elect their own House leaders rather than be compelled to accept term-sharing arrangements and other political deals packaged by their party leaders.

Allowing conscience vote, Defensor said, will give the congressmen the chance to choose a speaker based on criteria that have long been observed in the House of Representatives.

“There are two main criteria in selecting who will be the next speaker. First is the competence to lead, the knowledge and experience to steer Congress given the diverse and complicated issues that will confront the House,” the party-list lawmaker said.

“The second is the ability to lead, to build consensus, having the individual trust and respect of each member based on their individual sensitivities and biases,” he added.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Thursday denied Atienza’s accusation that he is one of Cabinet members that want Cayetano to get the speakership in the House to protect their budget insertions.

In a message to reporters, Dominguez said the Department of Finance” does not interfere with the internal affairs of the legislative branch.”

But Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Benjamin Diokno said Thursday that leaders of the two chambers of Congress should support the relaxation of the Bank Secrecy Law.

“Maybe we want to make it a precondition for these people—whoever they are, whoever will be the speaker or the Senate President, that they will support such measure,” Diokno said in an interview on the ANC news channel.

House Majority Leader Fredenil Castro, meanwhile, said President Duterte should make good his promise to resign if his son Paolo goes for the speakership.

“For the President to be continuously believable, for the President to be continuously respected by the Filipino people he should keep his word,” Castro told ANC.

“If he said before he will resign, he has to resign if Paolo Duterte runs for the speakership,” he said.

Castro also dismissed allegations by Cayetano and Alvarez that bribes were being offered to secure votes in the speakership race.

“I have not received [any bribe],” said Castro. “In fact, I am waiting so that I can prove whether or not there is [money being given].”

Newly elected Senator Ronald dela Rosa, on the other hand, said the President should not keep his promise and should not resign, even if his son seeks the speakership.

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Topics: Martin Romualdez , House of Representatives , RP-Mission and Development Foundation Inc.
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