Martin’s edge

Published June 13, 2019, 12:03 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Jullie Y. Daza
Jullie Y. Daza

Probably apocryphal, but the story goes that when President Duterte hunkered down in his hotel in Tokyo to meet with three of the “front-running” contenders for Speaker, he told them he was neutral and they had the same chances: “You are equally qualified. You are all young. You are equally guapo.”

That last sentence said, it’s a wonder that not a single one of them took offense. How could Martin Romualdez or Allan Peter Cayetano or Lord Allan Velasco each be as handsome as the other two? No way!

What’s in that position, anyway, that it’s driving a flock of congressmen to be as ambitious and audacious as they can be in expressing their aspirations? Mr. Cayetano was the President’s running mate, but he lost the election. He was secretary when DFA got snagged in a crisis involving desperate applicants who were forced to pay under the table for an appointment for interview; on top of which DFA could not supply enough passports, for as it turned out, APO, the agency created to print passports, had engaged a subcontractor to do the printing. Last May, the congressman proved he could carry his wife, sister, and brother to victory.

In spite of his name, Lord is not a member of Britain’s House of Lords, that much I know; also that his reputation is that of one “close” to the President and Sara. This is only his second term in our Congress. If he has qualities other than those mentioned by Mr. Duterte, let’s hear it. The election for Speaker won’t happen until noon of July 22, SONA day.

Martin Romualdez has three things his rivals do not. A beauty queen-congresswoman wife. Three consecutive terms under his belt. And the history of Yolanda. When I saw him at the Manila Hotel last week, I merely wanted a quote but he gave me the full Monty on why he wants to be Speaker, “congressman of all congressmen:”

“Mr. President, I know that I’ll not be able to approximate the closeness of Lord and Allan to you, but what you did for Leyte on Yolanda’s third anniversary – scolding heads of agencies, mobilizing 911 for recovery and rehabilitation, doing in three months what the previous administration did not do in three years – I will never be able to repay you. I would like to return that favor, utang na loob, by pledging unlimited support for your administration, one of the greatest.”