Lawmakers brace for interesting Speakership race

Published March 24, 2019, 3:21 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Lawmakers are bracing for an interesting race for House Speaker in the coming 18th Congress, even as they recognize that either President Duterte or Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte may have the final word on who will succeed Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.


They also stressed that the next Speaker should have “untainted” public record, and have no corruption issue with some of them endorsing former Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez as Arroyo’s successor.

Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, a member of the House opposition Magnificent 7 bloc, expressed belief that the fate of the new Speaker depends on President Duterte.

“I think the speakership will really be decided by the President after the election,” he said after Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, chairperson of the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP), endorsed Romualdez and Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco as the next Speaker.

Erice sided with Romualdez as the next Speaker, citing that the latter has untainted integrity as a public servant.

“Mabuting tao si Martin. He has no corruption issue and that will work on his advantage. Wala tayong nabalitaan diyan kay Martin na hindi maganda,” he said.

But, Senior Deputy Minority Leader and Buhay Hayaang Yumabong (BUHAY) party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said the Davao City mayor’s endorsement will have a big impact on who will assume the Speakership post.

“No doubt, whoever gets the endorsement will have a big edge,” he said.

The presidential daughter reportedly orchestrated the ouster of former Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez this 17th Congress and helped install Mrs. Arroyo as the country’s first woman Speaker.

“We need competent and honest man as Speaker like Congressman Romualdez. He has good public relations and no derogatory issue. Congress will be very interesting with his leadership. He is good, responsible, very bright and intelligent,” House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, chairman of rhe House Committee on Public Accounts, for his part, said.

Atienza agreed with Suarez, saying “walang corruption and derogatory record, he was a very effective and independent opposition leader.”

“Surely, corruption issue will be very important especially under the Duterte administration. We should elect a Speaker untainted with corruption,” he added.

Atienza said Romualdez and Velasco will be both qualified to assume the Speakership post.

Among those who are expected to join the Speakership race are Alvarez, former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, former Vice President Jejomar Binay, San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, Cavite Rep. Alex Advincula, Cavite Rep. Bambol Tolentino, Malabon Rep. Ricky Sandoval, and Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres.

For his part, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III also endorsed Romualdez as the next Speaker.

“He is a good and brilliant lawyer who never lost a case. He is also fair and a charming gentleman,” he said.

Romualdez, who serves as the president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) and Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), authored Republic Act (RA) No. 10754 that exempts persons with disabilities (PWDs) from paying value-added tax on certain goods and services. The law was signed on March 23, 2016 and is now known as Republic Act (RA) No. 10754 or an act on expanding the benefits and privileges of people with disabilities.

Romualdez earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and studied law at the University of Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City.

He holds a Certificate for Special Studies in Administration and Management from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass, USA.