Leaders of the House of Representatives have lauded Speaker Martin Romualdez for remaining focused on his countless responsibilities while he has been on the receiving end of Vice President Sara Duterte’s apparent attacks, saying he has taken the “moral high road.”
Reps. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. and Luis Raymund Villafuerte of Camarines Sur defended the Speaker, saying Romualdez never said a bad thing about the Vice President despite being “the obvious subject” of her “vicious insinuations” following the alleged attempt to oust him.
On Monday, the Vice President refused to mention President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s middle name, Romualdez, in her speech for the Office of the Vice President (OVP)’s thanksgiving event for its partners dubbed Pasidungog (Tribute) at a hotel in Manila.
The President’s mother, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, is the aunt of the Speaker.
“Hindi ko na banggitin ang middle initial niya… Mahal ko si Apo BBM (I will not mention his middle initial… I love Apo BBM),” said the Vice President in conveying her respect for the President — the cousin of the Speaker.
At the height of the rumors of the alleged coup against Romualdez last month, Duterte posted a cryptic message on her social media accounts.
“In your ambition, do not be ‘tambaloslos,’” Duterte said, without naming the person she was referring to.
“The Speaker held his horses and remained focused on his job as the leader of the House of Representatives amid this political rift. He never fired back with insults of his own. That shows strength of character,” said Barzaga, chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Barzaga said the support of various political parties for Romualdez’s leadership enabled the House to approve the priority bills of President Marcos and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), including the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).
He said political bickering is the last thing the country needs, especially since Mr. Marcos ran and won on a platform of unity with Duterte, who has already resigned from the ruling Lakas-CMD, of which Romualdez is the president.
Barzaga, a former president of the National Unity Party (NUP), pointed out that Romualdez helped tremendously in pushing for the vice-presidential candidacy of Duterte, who was eventually recruited to join Lakas.
Villafuerte, the current NUP president, echoed Barzaga’s support to Romualdez and his leadership even as he called for greater unity in the Congress and the executive department.
He warned that political discord would only risk the level of cooperation and hard work of the supermajority alliance in the legislature that has helped President Marcos get ahead in his first year in office.
“Improving the lives of all Filipinos, as committed by President Marcos, is the priority in the House on the watch of Speaker Martin (Romualdez), in lieu of divisive politics, hence the need for greater unity,” he said.
Villafuerte said greater unity is crucial to sustaining the close working relationship of Malacañan Palace with the Congress, most especially with the House of Representatives.
Under the leadership of the Speaker, the House has passed in a year’s time most of the priority bills of President Marcos meant to flesh out his “Agenda for Peace and Prosperity.”
“Lest we forget, 31 million Filipinos gave President Marcos the biggest ever electoral mandate in our history in 2022 after capturing their collective imagination with his call for national unity behind his Bangon Bayan Muli (BBM) pledge to lift all boats,” Villafuerte said.
“Our nation’s leaders would break faith with this broad and deep public support for national unity were we to waste our time with vacuous political discord that could only break apart the supermajority coalition in both the House and the Senate—and wreak havoc on the ‘Agenda for Peace and Prosperity’ of President Marcos to improve the lives of all Filipinos,” he added.
Villafuerte said Romualdez was spot on in citing what he had described as the “impressive performance” of the House. This was considering that on his watch as Speaker, the chamber had processed 9,600 measures in the first regular session comprising 8,490 bills, 1,109 resolutions, and one petition, and passed 577 of these measures.
This means that under the Speaker’s leadership, the House had managed to process an average of 30 legislative measures per session day in the first regular session, or a tenth higher than the chamber’s output in the 18th Congress, the CamSur solon said.
“Only through greater unity under Speaker Martin can we remain true to our commitment to the President’s legislative agenda to improve the lives of all Filipinos,” he added.
Romualdez became close to the Vice President because he was among those who convinced her to run for the post under the UniTeam ticket, which was headed by his cousin, who is now the President.
“The Speaker worked hard for then-Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s vice presidential bid because he genuinely believed that she would make a difference. Their rift is sad news and I hope that it will be mended soon,” Barzaga said.