“The historical record shows that unlike Martin Romualdez, past House Speakers did not have the good fortune of getting the overwhelming, if not nearly unconditional, acceptance of their peers in the legislature”
Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, is undoubtedly an inspiring leader for many Filipinos.
The eloquent, charming, good-looking Philippine and American-educated lawyer and seasoned political leader from Leyte already holds the distinction of being the only House Speaker of recent times who has not created a stir in assuming the top post in the lower house of Congress.
Romualdez’ election as House Speaker did not trigger any serious or manifest opposition from any sizeable group of legislators. It was almost as if the highest post in the House was simply waiting for him all along.
The historical record shows that unlike Romualdez, past House Speakers did not had the good fortune of getting the overwhelming, if not nearly unconditional, acceptance of their peers in the legislature.
One example is provided by incumbent Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, whose past stint as House Speaker was short-lived.
Political observers attribute Alvarez’ winning the top house post to his close ties to then President Rodrigo Duterte.
Many congressmen eventually found Alvarez too abrasive as House Speaker, and many others believed he was intoxicated with power.
In less than two years as House helmsman, Alvarez lost the throne to Pampanga Representative and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
One of the most controversial contenders for House Speaker is the over-ambitious Allan Peter Cayetano, seen by many as a traditional politician who would do anything to stay in power.
Cayetano was the vice presidential running mate of presidential aspirant Duterte in the 2016 polls, but he lost. In 2019, after a brief, inconsequential stint as Foreign Secretary, Cayetano won a seat in the House representing the City of Taguig.
Exploiting his close ties to President Duterte, Cayetano muscled his way to the speakership in a three-way contest between and among Romualdez and Marinduque solon Lord Allan Velasco.
To avoid a serious splinter within the ranks of the ruling party, Romualdez selflessly set aside his bid for the speakership, and took on the role of majority floor leader.
Cayetano and Velasco, however, went on with their rivalry. The fight ended only when Cayetano and Velasco agreed to divide the three-year term of Speaker between themselves, with Cayetano serving the first half.
Although he was an ally of President Duterte, the latter was not very keen on having Cayetano lead the House.
Anyway, after assuming the post of Speaker in July 2019, Cayetano practically spent the bulk of his incumbency currying favor with many congressmen with a view to getting himself to stay on as Speaker even beyond his one and half year tenure which he negotiated with Velasco.
Alas! When Cayetano’s 18 months as Speaker were over, he tried every trick in the book, including shedding tears in public and portraying himself to be prayerful, to stay in office.
His manipulations were unsuccessful. He succeeded, however, in tarnishing the post of House Speaker.
Tired of Cayetano’s self-centered style of management, the members of the House unceremoniously unseated Cayetano in October 2020, and replaced him with Velasco.
For three years since July 2019, Romualdez stayed in the wings, biding his time. His patience and perseverance were fruitful. Last July, Romualdez was elected House Speaker with barely any serious opposition from any sector.
Two months in office as House Speaker, Romualdez has managed to keep the trust and confidence given to him earlier by his colleagues in the legislature. His continued stay as House Speaker looks very bright.
The people are looking forward to the promised realization of Romualdez’ post pandemic economic recovery program that puts emphasis on a bright future for young Filipinos, a caring government for the marginalized, and support services for the working class and the business sector.
Nobody, not even the most rabid of the stragglers from the political opposition, can disagree with the famed Romualdez plan.
Romualdez also has the good fortune of being a first cousin of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr. His close ties to the President should make cooperation between the legislative and the executive departments of the government, which is indispensable to speedy and effective legislation, proceed with ease.
Like his cousin the President, Romualdez does not speak ill of others, maintains a relatively low profile in public, and easily creates an atmosphere characteristic of friendly and kind-hearted Filipinos everywhere he goes.
His natural charisma and undisputed record of dedicated public service, unblemished by even any remote suggestion of corruption, anomalies or incompetence, make Romualdez the personification of the young and vibrant Filipino leader of the current generation.
Romualdez’ turn as House Speaker has long been awaited, and it is now a reality that will prove beneficial to the people, and unite the nation’s diverse political sectors.