MANILA In a free-for-all speakership fight, Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez has the ace to win the House of Representatives' top post, two ranking lawmakers said Monday.
Deputy Speaker and Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison said Romualdez has the numbers to win the speakership of the incoming 18th Congress after getting the backing of majority of their colleagues.
"Whatever the President's choice will be the Speaker. But If he (President Rodrigo Duterte) will not intervene, Martin has the ace," Arbison said.
Earlier, Duterte vowed to exercise a "hands-off" policy in the selection of the next Speaker, while her daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte Carpio, the chairperson of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) regional party, said she was not in the position to pick the House leader.
Meanwhile, ANAC-IP Party-list Rep. Jose Panganiban Jr. said Romualdez has the experience and leadership advantage compared to the other Speaker-wannabes.
The chair of the House committee on agriculture and food added Romualdez is also the most acceptable to the overwhelming majority of their colleagues.
"He has the edge in leadership qualities, experience, and goodwill among House members compared to the other candidates in the speakership race, Panganiban said.
Earlier, House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said Romualdez is a sure winner in the speakership race following the declaration of Duterte that he will let lawmakers elect the leader.
Suarez bared that Romualdez's manifesto of support reached the magic number, or more than 153, which is enough to win the speakership race.
The Minority Leader also said that Romualdez is the most qualified among the aspirants.
Romualdez, head of the House Independent Bloc in the previous 16th Congress, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the Ivy League school, 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.
Romualdez is the current president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD).
Besides Romualdez, other top aspirants for the speakership post are former Speaker and reelected Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez, Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, and Taguig 1st District Rep.-elect Alan Peter Cayetano.
NUP goes for Cayetano
While a majority of lawmakers are reportedly backing Romualdez, the National Unity Party (NUP) is committing its support to Cayetano, the party's chairman said Monday.
In a statement, Ronaldo Puno said the NUP is committed to support the candidate for Speaker who has the competence and proven ability to support and help carry out the programs and policies of President Duterte, and has the broadest government experience, who can eloquently represent the Congress and the country in interactions with foreign counterparts.
We believe in a Speaker who has a principled approach in trusting the institution and protecting its integrity, which are essential in the things the NUP is fighting for, he said.
For these reasons, the NUP leadership is supporting for Speaker of the House of Representatives former Congressman, former Senator, former Foreign Affairs Secretary and now Congressman-elect Alan Peter Cayetano, who is someone all Congressmen can count on and look up to, Puno said.
The NUP has 28 House members in the incoming 18th Congress.
Meanwhile, the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), where Alvarez and Velasco both belong, has 95 members.
The Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI) has 54 members in its fold, making it the second biggest political bloc in the House.
On the other hand, the Nacionalista Party (NP) has 37 members, the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) has 33, the Liberal Party (LP) has 18, Lakas-NUCD has five, the Makabayan bloc has six, and 16 belong to other parties, or are independents. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency