Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Tuesday night feted the 131 congressmen who supported his bid for the speakership, in a gesture of gratitude to his colleagues who stood up for him and believed in his competence and leadership skills to lead the House of Representatives.
In his speech, Romualdez, who got the backing of at least 167 lawmakers in the speakership fight, told his congressional allies who applauded him several times in the thanksgiving dinner he hosted for them at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel: “I want to join hands with all of you. To give thanks and pray to make sure that this 18th Congress may be the best Congress of the Republic of the Philippines because the people deserve the best. From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.
READ: Romualdez pushes Duterte reforms
“We love you all and we will see you next week and we will be working hard together.”
He engaged his allies who belong to all political parties and influential blocs in the conversation up to 1:30 Wednesday morning.
In related developments:
• The Liberal Party said House members should elect a genuine Minority Leader at the House of Representatives to ensure the check and balance to the Majority aligned with the powerful administration.
“It could not just be anybody, including those who only want a position and those masquerading as fiscalizers but are in fact collaborators,” stressed the party’s president Senator Francis Pangilinan.
He said the House and the people deserved a real opposition leader, not the Majority’s “Minority Leader.”
“It is not bad to be in harmony with the Majority in legislating measures for the public good,” he said.
“But toeing the administration’s line without considering the interest of the people is what we fear with the Majority’s Minority Leader at the helm,” added the opposition leader.
He guaranteed that the ruling party in the previous administration, together with its allies at the House, would continue to uphold its values and principles in dealing with this leadership issue.
Earlier, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman offered himself as a candidate for minority leader as he urged presumptive Speaker and Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano to let a true member of the opposition take the post.
“If the House leadership and supermajority will not install their handpicked minority leader, then I will be available to represent the authentic and responsible opposition,” the leader of “Magnificent Seven” bloc,” said Lagman.
“One of the important reforms in the House is the recognition of a genuine and constructive leader of the opposition,” Lagman said.
“A real and responsible opposition will not only assure a democratic legislative process but will also restore the credibility of the House of Representatives,” he added.
Capiz Rep. Fredenil Castro, who was the House majority leader in the 17th Congress, had also aired his interest to lead the opposition.
• Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda said he did not see a coup unfolding when members of the House of Representatives elect their Speaker on Monday.
“Internally, no. I don’t see any prospect,” Salceda told a news forum in Manila. “The President has made a suggestion, and he hasn’t changed the suggested name.”
Romualdez’s supporters mobbed him when he arrived at the venue with some shaking hands with him. Others were seen kissing his cheeks and hugging him.
Romualdez was one of the strongest contenders in the speakership race until he accepted the possible House majority leader leadership after President Rodrigo Duterte endorsed the term-sharing agreement for Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano who will sit as Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco who will serve in the last 21 months.
He thanked his colleagues for helping the entire Region 8 or Eastern Visayas, especially the hardest-hit Tacloban City recover from Typhoon “Yolanda” (Haiyan) in 2013.
He said his return to Congress was to reciprocate the help and kindness that legislative districts extended to his constituents after killer typhoon ravaged the city.
“There was a time, not too many years ago and that was after Yolanda when my district, the hardest hit district was demolished. So many people were dead and hopeless. And all of you came to help us. And that is why we are back and that is why I’m here—that the remaining years of my public service—I would also like to give back and return the favor to each and every one of you,” Romualdez stressed.
“If it were working as a Speaker, as any House leader, as Majority Leader, in any capacity, I really want to dedicate my last years in public service working for you, by you, for what you have done for us,” said Romualdez, who even dropped by at Cayetano’s seminar for neophyte lawmakers at the 10th Floor, SM Aura Tower, BGC, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City before going to the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel.
Romualdez also thanked former Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for being his mentor in the political arena for the betterment of the country.
“I thank her [Arroyo] for helping me become what I am today. She has mentored me during her presidency and speakership years. I was on the sidelines, but beyond her genius mind, her work ethic, and her steadfast convictions to do what is best for the country, I have gained a lot of experience and wisdom from her,” said Romualdez on Arroyo, a former president, who was accompanied by her husband, Mike Arroyo in the event and joined Tingog Party-list Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez, the incoming Majority leader’s wife, in the same table.
Anak Kalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor clarified that the Tuesday night thanksgiving dinner was not a show of force, adding that Romualdez already decided to support Cayetano in compliance with the President’s recommendation.
“I think in the same manner, if Cong. Allan Velasco would call for a get-together, many of us will also be attending because marami pa kaming hindi kilala. There are 300 of us and many, about 100 neophyte members of the House, so this would be a good way to know each other before the official SONA [State of the Nation Address] of the President,” said Defensor. With PNAREAD: Duterte supports Romualdez for VP
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