COVID-stricken Romualdez, now a ‘lame duck’ majority leader?

Published March 19, 2021, 5:20 PM

by Ben Rosario

Despite being assured that he will retain his post as majority leader, Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez has become a virtual lame duck head of the majority bloc and plenary manager in the House of Representatives.

Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin Romualdez (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

This, after Speaker Lord Allan Velasco appointed last week Pampanga Rep. Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc to head two plenary session teams tasked to manage floor proceedings.

Romualdez was reportedly bypassed and was not aware of Bondoc’s appointment as team leader. 

“So to whom will Rimpy be answerable to? This situation is quite confusing, if not alarming,” a senior administration lawmaker, who requested anonymity,  noted.

Bondoc, Velasco’s PDP-Laban partymate,  is holding two key posts in the chamber, that of a deputy speaker and a deputy majority leader.   His appointment as team leader of the two teams gives him additional powers.

This effectively ended the term of the three plenary leadership teams originally formed by Romualdez.

“Rimpy’s wearing of too many hats became very noticeable when he was seen last week managing the plenary deliberation as floor leader then scurrying to the rostrum to preside over the session,” the source said.

Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin defended Velasco’s move to assign House members to play vital roles in the passage of legislative measures.

“It is the Speaker’s duty to see to it that priority bills are acted upon on the floor.  We only have a few months to pass these legislative proposals,” explained Garbin.

On Wednesday, Velasco sent Garbin to meet Lakas-CMD congressmen and their partylist allies and assure them that the House leader will honor the so-called 15-21 agreement brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte to address the House leadership feud among his allies in the Lower House.

Under the agreement, Taguig-Pateros Partylist Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Velasco will have a term sharing arrangement as speaker under a 15-21 month split.  Romualdez was to become the majority leader throughout the duration of the 18th Congress.

Garbin revealed that Velasco and Romualdez have agreed to hold a dialogue next week to iron out their differences but the meeting was cancelled to a later date because of the latter tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The rift between the two House officials started when Velasco ordered the relief of Zamboanga Sibugay Rep. Wilter Palma and Quezon City Rep. Onyx Crisologo as deputy majority leader and assistant majority leader, respectively.