House of Representatives

Romualdez is caretaker of Negros Oriental 3rd district, Palawan 3rd district

Kaycee Valmonte

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Romualdez is caretaker of Negros Oriental 3rd district, Palawan 3rd district

LEADER. House Speaker Martin Romualdez in this photo uploaded on the House website in September 2023.

House press and public affairs bureau

Speaker Martin Romualdez is the caretaker of the congressional districts previously served by Arnie Teves and the late Edward Hagedorn

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Martin Romualdez is the caretaker of congressional districts left by expelled lawmaker Arnolfo Teves Jr. and Edward Hagedorn, who died in October.

Romualdez, Leyte 1st District representative since 2019, will serve as the caretaker of the 3rd District of Negros Oriental and the 3rd District of Palawan previously served by Teves and Hagedorn, respectively.

It remains unclear on whether the Commission on Elections will hold special polls to fill the two seats, as House Secretary-General Reginald Velasco pointed out the two who would get elected will have a shorter term.

“Remember that next year will be the start of the political season, remember the filing of the certificate of candidacy will be around October 2024 so the term of whoever will be elected in a special election is so short,” Velasco told reporters in mix of Filipino and English on Wednesday.

“And then there will be protests too, some will file for disqualification and so on and so forth,” he added.

Under Article 6, Section 9 of the Philippine Constitution, a special election may be held in case of a vacancy in either chamber of Congress. However, the newly-elected lawmaker “shall serve only for the unexpired term.”

Both Teves and Hagedorn were elected just last year and assumed office in June 2022. This means terms for whoever is elected to fill their vacancies may still have over a year before the 2025 midterm elections.

Political climate of Negros Oriental

Comelec on Wednesday, November 8, gave in to the House suggestion to “reconsider” holding polls in Negros Oriental.

House Resolution 1431 was filed by Negros Oriental 2nd District Representative Manuel Sagarbarria, who pointed out that the election “may have a negative impact on the peace and order situation not only in the district but also in the surrounding areas in the province.”

“Based on the assessment of Congressman Sagabarria [the next election may be rescheduled] in 2025,” said Velasco.

Teves was kicked out of the lower chamber for his alleged role in the murder of Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo and several others. Among those who filed certificates of candidacy for the special poll that was slated for next month are his younger brother, Pryde Henry Teves, and his rival, retired Navy colonel Reynaldo Lopez.

With the Negros Oriental special election slated for December 9, Velasco pointed out that the poll body may not have enough time to prepare for a “real, peaceful, and honest election.” – with reports from James Patrick Cruz and John Sitchon/Rappler.com

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