By FLORO L. MERCENE
The speaker of the House is more than just an esteemed post of the fourth highest and most powerful official in government. He sets the tone and agenda of the Lower House in line with the President’s priority legislative agenda and must be an effective leader to balance the myriad interests of more than 200 legislators while ensuring that they toe the majority party line.
Sergio Osmena, Ramon Mitra Jr., Jose de Venecia Jr., Manuel Villar, Feliciano Belmonte Jr., and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo are former House speakers with gravitas. They embodied the power and dignity of the House as a legislative institution.
In the next Congress, three appear to be serious contenders for speakership: former Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, and former Rep. Martin Romualdez. All three are lawyers.
Cayetano is the most experienced at crafting laws, developing his legislative skills as the youngest and number one municipal councilor in Taguig when he was just 22 and in law school.
In 1998, he won a seat in the House as representative of the then lone district of Taguig-Pateros. He earned the moniker “Batang Compañero” because of his eloquence and with his strong advocacy against graft and corruption.
After three terms in the House, Cayetano run for the Senate in 2007 and won. On his second term in 2013, he was elected Senate majority floor leader and chaired the Senate Committee on Rules.
His legislative record consists of 43 bills that he had primarily authored, of which six have been passed into law.
Cayetano was Rodrigo Duterte’s running mate in the 2016 elections. He was appointed secretary of foreign affairs in 2017.
Former Rep. Martin Romualdez is the president of the Philippine Constitution Association — and served as minority leader. He ran and lost in the 2016 elections when he vied for a senatorial seat.
He was in Leyte when super-typhoon “Yolanda” struck, leaving a path of destruction, and killing at least 6,000 people.
Velasco was proclaimed representative of Marinduque in February, 2016, after contesting Carmencita Reyes’ victory in 2013.