MANILA Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez on Tuesday night vowed to work for, and alongside each member of the House Representatives in any capacity as a gesture of his gratitude for their unwavering help and support when typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit Region 8 (Eastern Visayas) in 2013.
In a Thanksgiving dinner he hosted for around 130 lawmakers at a hotel in Mandaluyong City, Romualdez said he was so blessed to be back in the House of Representatives and given the honor to serve and work side by side with old and new friends alike.
I really want to thank each one of you. Some of you may have forgotten, 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. As quickly and as powerful was the storm, so was your help, your compassion, he said.
And that is why we are back and that is why I'm here: that in 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. 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, Romualdez said.
Romualdez, who was named by President Rodrigo Duterte as the next House Majority Leader, also thanked all his colleagues who stood up for him and believed in his competence and leadership skills to lead the House of Representatives.
The Leyte lawmaker was one of the contenders in the Speakership race - with at least 167 lawmakers backing his bid - until he accepted the House Majority Leader post after President Duterte sealed a term-sharing agreement for Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.
Under the term-sharing deal, Cayetano will sit as Speaker in the first 15 months of the 18th Congress, while Velasco will serve in the remaining 21 months.
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, he said.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you very much. We love you all and we will see you next week and we will be working hard together, Romualdez said.
He also thanked former Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for being his mentor in the political arena.
I thank her (Arroyo) for helping me what I am today. She has mentored me during her presidency and speakership years, he said.
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, Romualdez said.
Dinner not a 'show of force'
Meanwhile, Anak Kalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor clarified that the Thanksgiving dinner was not a show of force, pointing out that Romualdez has 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 (we are not yet acquainted). 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, Defensor said in an ambush interview at the sidelines of the event.
When asked of the possibility of a coup d'etat for the House Speakership in this year's SONA, the lawmaker said, "No. I don't think so. President Duterte's pronouncements were clear. Whatever thanksgiving or gathering or get-together that would happen, I think it will have no effect on the announcement of the President." (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency