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Solons appeal to Duterte: Pick Romualdez for House Speaker

/ 02:41 PM July 04, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — Three lawmakers from powerful political blocs in the House on Thursday appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to pick Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez as his bet for 18th Congress’ House Speaker, even as the Chief Executive had already vowed a hands-off stance on the House leadership row.

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“My message [to the President] is pick someone, pick Martin,” Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda, outgoing House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s point man on economic issues and her former presidential chief of staff (COS), said during a forum at Kamuning Bakery Cafe in Quezon City.

Capiz 2nd District Rep. Fredenil Castro and Anakalusugan Rep. Mike Defensor echoed Salceda’s request to the Chief Executive. Salceda is a member of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan, while Castro, former Majority Leader, is leading the National Unity Party, and Defensor is a member of the 54-strong party-list coalition in the chamber.

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“Naniniwala ako, for the good of the country, I think unless hindi po abrasive ‘yung speakership fight, para po we can hit the ground running, importante po ang pagpili ni Pangulo kasi po kung pababayaan, we will determine the Speaker only in the morning of July 22,” Salceda added.

Defensor meanwhile, said Romualdez could usher Duterte’s legislative agenda, including the possible revision of the Constitution, efficiently.

“Kung kailangan amyendahan ang Saligang Batas kailangan natin ng Speaker na makakatulong sa ating pangulo…” the returning congressman said in the same forum.

Defensor, also Arroyo’s former presidential COS, also vouched that Romualdez has more than 160 congressmen working to elect him as Speaker.

“I have seen the manifesto for support for Cong. Martin and I saw the signatures of 167 congressmen from different political parties and blocs of the 18th Congress. An initial list of 80 congressmen was shown to the President last month, but the numbers have grown to 167 as of the moment,” he said.

Aside from Romualdez of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats party, former Speaker and Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco, Makabayan bloc bet Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, and Davao City 3rd District Rep. Isidro Ungab are also vying for the highest position in the lower House.

Alvarez and Velasco are both from PDP-Laban, Cayetano is from the Nacionalista Party, while Ungab is from the regional party Hugpong ng Pagbabago.

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Duterte’s son, Davao City 1st District Rep. Paolo Duterte, earlier threatened to join the Speaker race in a bid to “unite” the “divided” chamber. But Duterte, on May 27, vowed to resign if Paolo guns for the position. (Editor: Jonathan P. Vicente)

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