By Ben Rosario
TACLOBAN CITY – Incoming Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Wednesday expressed his gratitude to Hugpong ng Pagbabago chairperson and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte for openly endorsing his bid to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives.
This developed as Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, who is a strong bet for the top Lower House post, said the speakership race remains to be a tight contest among those who are capable of delivering the remaining legislative agenda of the Duterte administration.
Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, who is among the pillars of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago senatorial campaign, admitted he will seek the top post in the House of Representatives but added that his bid will be crowded by two other pro-Duterte candidates.
During a well-attended campaign sortie in Tacloban City last Tuesday, HNP chairperson and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, introduced the event’s host, incoming Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez, as the next speaker of the Lower House.
She later explained that being a supporter of her father, President Duterte, Romualdez, together with former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Velasco, has her backing.
Romualdez is running unopposed to reclaim his old seat in the Lower House. Velasco is also virtually unopposed in his congressional district while Cayetano faces incumbent Taguig Rep. Arnel Cerafica.
“Congressman Martin Romualdez, ang susunod na speaker of the House,” declared Duterte when she greeted the former House minority leader as she spoke.
The presidential daughter has been widely rumored as the person behind the ouster of former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, and the election of former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as his replacement.
Romualdez, who served as minority leader during the 16th Congress, said he was humbled by Mayor Duterte’s expression of support for his speakership bid, adding that he has been supportive of her father even before his election as president.
It will be recalled that Romualdez, chairman of the Lakas-CMD party, was among the senatorial bets that Duterte backed during the 2016 national elections.
Meanwhile, Velasco said a term sharing for the speakership should be rejected since such set up may only spell disaster in achieving the Duterte government’s legislative goals for the 18th Congress.
Velasco noted that a one and a half-year term as speaker is a short period for any House leader to move for the passage of vital legislative measures necessary to guarantee approval of economic, political and social reform agenda of President Duterte.
He explained that the Senate presidency can be shared because each head will serve a three-year term.
Velasco has also been endorsed to be the next speaker by Mayor Duterte.
“I think if there’s also anyone who’s interested (in the Speakership) for as long as it’s supporting the administration, I’m sure Mayor Inday would also endorsed that person,” said Velasco.
Velasco who currently serves as a volunteer emcee in most of the HNP sorties said it’s still anybody’s game for those who aspire to succeed former President and incumbent House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who is expected to retire from politics after June 30.
“Martin Romualdez is supporting the administration. (Former Foreign Affairs Sec.) Alan Cayetano is supporting the administration. I am supporting the administration. She is endorsing anyone who is supporting the administration. As of now, walang may inside track,” said Velasco.