"Romualdez is strong on building consensus."
Even before the midterm elections came to a close, talk of the race for the House Speakership had already started. Jockeying for the post among the newly elected congressmen for the fourth most powerful government office in the land has heated up.
So far, three names have risen to the fore—former senator and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
But what has Cayetano achieved in his short-lived watch over the DFA at a time of contentious issues with China on the disputed South China Sea and Beijing’s encroachment in the West Philippine Sea? Insiders at the DFA claim Cayetano never had any real action plan nor policy on the issue except to mouth President Rodrigo Duterte’s line on it.
Velasco is already lord of Marinduque. What else can he bring to the table as House Speaker?
Cayetano’s calibrated ambition for the presidency and Velasco’s vague plan for legislation makes Martin Romualdez the wise choice for House Speaker. His calm persona and signature approach for consensus-building will contribute much to the early passage of vital measures needed by the people. With less debates on the House floor and close relations with the Palace, particularly with former Special Assistant to the President and now Senator Christopher Bong Go and presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte, Congress can be counted on to enact more urgent bills.
As for Cayetano’s presidential ambition, he should be reminded about the curse of the Speakership. No House Speaker, from Ramon Mitra, Joe de Venecia and Manny Villar, ever made it as President. Cayetano even never made it as Digong’s running mate for vice president. Is it Cayetano’s game plan to use the Speakership to parlay it into his 2022 presidential bid? The people and the more than 200 congressmen know better.
House insiders and the media covering Congress, know that Cayetano’s priority is I, me and myself.
Romualdez, on the other hand, is known as a team player. He has a law degree from the University of the Philippines and also studied at the prestigious US Ivy League University of Cornell. This certainly adds to his qualifications to be House Speaker. His several years as Leyte representative will also serve him in good stead in working with both senior and new House members. Former Speaker Feliciano “Sonny” Belmonte credits Romualdez with the passage of priority bills without sacrificing his principles to fiscalize administration- certified legislation.
Aside from Belmonte, Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza also expressed his support for Romualdez as Speaker of the House. The support of the various party list solons is necessary for good leadership.
This then is the man who as Speaker can harness his skills in consensus and sober legislation and still work with the executive branch for effective measures that will redound to the people’s benefit.
His impressive CV aside, Romualdez has the ground level skill on local politics to know what infrastructure projects his fellow congressmen need in their localities. This is necessary to have cooperation in threshing out disputes on various local interests which are rife in the House. This is specially true in the enactment of the national budget as seen in the last appropriations deliberations.
Romualdez should be able to guide the House in the next three years in the passage of priority bills by consolidating each congressman’s parochial interest that still serves the national interest.
Related to the May 13 polls, the Commission on Elections reminded both winning and losing candidates to submit no later than June 12 their Statement of Campaign Expenses to avoid sanctions that include disqualification. This happened to then winning Laguna governor E.R. Ejercito who was unseated because he did not declare his SOCE truthfully.