MANILA, Philippines – From Ferdinand to Ferdinand, and from nephew to uncle.
Neophyte lawmaker Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos III on Monday, July 25, nominated his uncle, Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez, to hold the highest post in the House of Representatives.
Unchallenged, Romualdez easily won as Speaker as the 19th Congress officially opened its first regular session.
Representative Marcos of the 1st District of Ilocos Norte is the son of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Romualdez, whose first name is also Ferdinand, is the President’s first-degree cousin.
The “familial” ties was something Representative Marcos addressed in nominating his uncle, although, he said, they had nothing to do with his winning the top post in the lower chamber.
Representative Marcos described Romualdez, also his former boss in the 18th Congress, as a “consensus builder,” whom members of the House “regards with respect” no matter their political affiliation.
Romualdez was Majority Leader during the 18th Congress when Rodrigo Duterte was president.
“With unity at the core of the government as our shared vision for the next 6 years, the [House] requires a leader that embodies inclusivity, possesses unquestionable competency, and feels genuinely for the people we are all bound to serve,” said the younger Marcos.
To be sure, Romualdez’s experience in politics is nothing to scoff at.
He first served as Leyte congressman from 2007 to 2016, after which he made a failed bid for the Senate in 2016. In the 2019 elections, he was again elected to represent Leyte in Congress. He’s made a bid for the speakership before, although he didn’t win it that time.
But it’s the role he played in the 2022 elections that perhaps explain why this time his bid for the top House post worked. Romualdez is president of Lakas-CMD, the party that Sara Duterte would join to run – and win – as vice president.
Romualdez was co-campaign manager for Duterte’s 2022 bid and was a key figure in forming the “Uniteam alliance” headlined by President Marcos and Vice President Duterte.
It was at the birthday party of his wife, Tingog Representative Yedda Romualdez, that now-President Marcos and Vice President Duterte would appear in public for the first time together after the filing of candidacies for the 2022 polls. Duterte then was not a vice presidential candidate, but she’d be able to run anyway via substitution.
Romualdez, said Representative Marcos, was “someone who believes that, as the dust settles, the time for politics must end and the time for public service begins.”
The line borrows from Romualdez’s own speech as Majority Leader of the 18th Congress, when he led the proclamation of his cousin as the winner of the 2022 presidential race in May.
Although voting took a few hours on July 25, Romualdez getting the top post had been decided on long ago – he’d gotten enough numbers even weeks before President Marcos took his oath on June 30.
Romualdez is expected to lead a “supermajority” of Marcos-allied legislators in the House. Lakas-CMD is poised to be the leading party in the lower chamber, mostly through alliances and not sheer party membership.
The following were also elected leaders of the House during the opening of session:
- House Majority Leader: Zamboanga City 2nd District Representative Manuel Jose Dalipe
- Senior Deputy Speaker: Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
- Deputy Speaker: Davao City 3rd District Representative Isidro Ungab
- Deputy Speaker: Antipolo 2nd District Representative Roberto Puno
- Deputy Speaker: Las Piñas City Representative Camille Villar
- Deputy Speaker: Ilocos Sur 2nd District Representative Kristine Singson-Meehan
- Deputy Speaker: TUCP Representative Raymond Democrito Mendoza