Martin Romualdez: Public Servant, Constitutionalist, Family Man
Senatorial aspirant Martin Romualdez, the incumbent representative of the 1st District of Leyte, hails from a family known for its dedication to public service. His father, Benjamin Trinidad “Kokoy” Romualdez, served as Governor of Leyte and later as Ambassador to the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia. His great-grand-uncle, Miguel Lopez Romualdez, was among the first Mayors of the City of Manila.
Martin Romualdez was first hoisted into the political realm as a member of the Kabataang Barangay; as President in his hometown of Tolosa in Leyte some 30 years ago; and later on as provincial federation president—a seemingly providential prologue to his higher calling as a career politician in the field of legislation. Romualdez sees his stint in politics not as a mere job but a vocation, a serious platform to serve and improve people’s lives, saying, “I’m a product of my environment, and so I grew up as a very secure person in that sense. I don’t care if people take credit for something whether it’s due them or not, so long as under my watch, I did a good job,” he said in an interview.
Romualdez, known in the legal circles as an astute lawyer, banker, and businessman, is also a well-respected constitutionalist. He is the sitting president of the Philippine Constitution Association (or PHILCONSA), an organization tasked to promote, defend, preserve and protect the Philippine Constitution. He believes that the Constitution is not a monolithic artifact that only speaks to a few; being the law of the land, it should be of paramount importance to everyone.
As a staunch guardian of the Constitution, Romualdez has time and again proven his dedication by successfully questioning the constitutionality of several policies of the current administration—the disbursement acceleration program (DAP), the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), and the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the precursor to the controversial BBL—before the highest court of the land: the Supreme Court of the Philippines.
Martin Romualdez’s work in Congress is a direct reflection of his concern for his countrymen, not to mention his generosity in spirit. Like the late President Ramon Magsaysay, he believes that those who have less in life should have more in law. His innate compassion or “malasakit” towards improving the plight of those disadvantaged, vulnerable, and struggling to rise above the poverty plaguing our nation is evident in the bills he has sponsored and authored concerning micro-business enterprises (MBEs); the exemption of disabled persons from value-added tax or VAT; the creation of a National Cancer Center; and the furthering of benefits for solo parents, among others.
He has also been aggressively fighting for disaster risk-reduction and mitigation and a better disaster preparedness and emergency management mechanism in the Philippines, in light of what they have experienced in the province of Leyte during Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Yolanda), one of the strongest tropical cyclones ever recorded in history. The lawmaker shared, “My father always said we owe everything to Leyte in the sense that it is part of our heritage. Right now, it is a matter of giving back, and that’s what we’re prepared and eager to do. We who have been spared by Yolanda have an even greater role to play towards rebuilding our homes, our lives, and our nation.”
A religious man who is not above prayer, Martin Romualdez is also a devoted family man. He is grateful for his wife Yedda Romualdez and their four children, and doesn’t hold back on showing them. “My parents were very emphatic about the family being tightly knit, and communication—then and now—is key. When I come home to my family, all the fatigue melts away,” he said. A trip back home after a long day at work is, above all, still his favorite part of the day, a way to alleviate all the stress and anxiety that come with his chosen profession.