CITING his track record, two staunch allies of Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez yesterday trumpeted his accomplishments and excellent leadership skills that make him the most competent and qualified candidate in the contest for the next Speaker.
House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo “Danny” Suarez and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda recognized Romualdez’s track record and admirable persuasion skills that would help the incoming 18th Congress boost President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s efforts in pursuing structural reforms for the country’s economic takeoff.
“He is the most experienced and competent candidate and can handily win the speakership race in a free for all fight. Martin is a very credible leader who has the respect of his colleagues. His commitment to help President Duterte, especially in approving vital bills is beyond question,” said Suarez after Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles bared that the 54-strong Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI) has narrowed down to Romualdez and Velasco the race for the next Speaker.
Salceda said Romualdez’s knowledge and vast experience in the financial markets and the field of economics would help expedite the enactment into laws of President Duterte’s economic reform agenda.
“Rep. Romualdez’s decision to join the Speakership derby is a welcome development as far as the country’s economic managers and business leaders are concerned. Rep. Romualdez as Speaker is good for the economy,” said Salceda, who is senior vice-chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means.
ANAC-IP Party-List Rep. Jose Panganiban Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, said Romualdez has the experience and leadership advantage compared to the other Speaker-wannabes and is the most acceptable to the overwhelming majority of their colleagues.
Panganiban said Romualdez “has the edge in leadership qualities, experience, and goodwill among House members” compared to the other candidates in the speakership race especially if the Palace does not meddle in the contest.
Romualdez, a banker and lawyer by profession, is the president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).
He was the House Independent Bloc leader of the previous 16th Congress or during the Aquino administration.
Romualdez holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from the Ivy League school, in Cornell University, and a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management from Harvard University. He also earned his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines (UP).
One of the laws passed by Romualdez was Republic Act (RA) No. 10754, which exempts more than 1.5 million persons with disabilities (PWDs) from the payment of 12-percent value added tax (VAT) on certain goods and services. It was enacted during the time of former President Aquino.
Suarez also said many members of President Duterte’s ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) are backing the speakership bid of Romualdez
“Marami kasing PDP na pumirma kay Martin eh. They have signed their desire to make Martin with the colatilla na huwag lang magbibigay ng marching order ang Palasyo,” said Suarez, referring to the manifesto of support of more than 153 lawmakers backing the speakership bid of Romualdez on condition that President Duterte will not endorse any candidate.
This developed as a congressman who refused to be named for obvious reason bared PDP-Laban officials and members failed to agree on their common candidate in the speakership race after a meeting Tuesday night at the residence of Sen. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao in Makati City.
“They failed to agree among themselves who will be their bet, prompting them to task Sen. Pacquiao to talk to President Duterte and choose who would be their common candidate for Speaker,” said the congressman.
The PDP-Laban candidates for Speaker are Velasco, Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, who was ousted as speaker last July.
Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, PDP-Laban president, earlier reportedly failed to secure a meeting with President Duterte regarding the speakership fight.