MANILA House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez on Wednesday said that Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez has gotten the backing of enough members of the House of Representatives to be elected Speaker in the 18th Congress.
He has enough numbers. I think he has more than 153, said Suarez during the regular Minority bloc press briefing at the House of Representatives.
There will be a total of 304 House members 243 district lawmakers and 61 partylist representatives in the next Congress, and a contender needed 153 votes, the magic number, to become Speaker.
At present, Suarez said the number of lawmakers who have signed a manifesto of support for Romualdez has already exceeded the magic number, albeit with certain provisions.
All of them signified support for Romualdez, with a colatilla - as long as the father endorser does not endorse somebody else, he said in the vernacular, referring to President Rodrigo Duterte.
Lawmakers agree that an endorsement from MalacaAang would carry much weight in a closely contested race for the Speakership.
For one, while members of the Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI) said that they will vote as a bloc and will come out with only one candidate to support for Speaker, they admitted that the endorsement of MalacaAang will also give weight to their decision.
With more than 50 members, PCFI is the second largest voting bloc in the House.
Suarez said such is the reality on the ground, even if it is, for him, unhealthy.
He said it is for this reason that he was happy with the latest pronouncements from Duterte.
I am happy that President Duterte has said that it's up to the (House) members to select who they want to be their Speaker, Suarez said.
The Minority Leader said presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte also gave a similar assurance.
So both of them said on an official statement that it's the affair of the House, let the members decide, Suarez said.
In the meantime, Suarez reiterated his support for Romualdez as the next Speaker, saying the Leyte lawmaker is the most qualified among the aspirants.
Martin is the most qualified. Just look at his resume, he said.
Romualdez 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.
He's an economist, we need that. He's a lawyer, we need a good lawyer. But what is important here is alam mo yung (you know the) concern on how this House works, Suarez said.
The Minority Leader pointed out that Congress is very sensitive, as all appropriation, tax and all legislative measures start in the House.
All primary and sensitive debates regarding appropriations emanate from the House. It would be best that whoever would be the next Speaker has the ability to handle those issues, Suarez said.
He likewise said that the next Speaker should be a veteran in handling crisis to better address the woes besetting the country.
We have present pressing problems: unemployment, poverty, hunger, economic, peace and order. Dapat battle-tested yung magiging Speaker.. na nagkaron na ng experience in handling crisis (The next Speaker should be battle-tested, someone who has experience in handling crisis), Suarez said.
The lawmaker was alluding to the Super Typhoon Yolanda case where Romualdez was able to help his disaster-stricken province despite an episode wherein former Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas told Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez: "You have to understand, you're a Romualdez and the President is an Aquino."
Suarez also said that Romualdez has also gotten a sort of a go-signal from President Duterte for an endorsement.
He went to the President and expressed his support on the implementation of Duterte's measures. Cong. Martin also highlighted what he wants to do as leader of the House, he said.
There were no problems with PRRD. He told Romualdez to proceed, but he did not say that I am going to endorse you, Suarez said.
Romualdez might also be a shoo-in for Speaker Arroyo's endorsement, he said.
Malaking bagay yun (That's a big thing), Suarez said.
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.
Outgoing Senator and Antique Rep.-elect Loren Legarda has also expressed intention to run for Speaker but has reportedly backed out to vie for a key committee chairmanship post. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency