Speaker: House destab must be nipped in the bud

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
Speaker: House destab must be nipped in the bud
Newly-elected House Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez took his oath of office before the House of Representatives.
The STAR / KJ Rosales

Sara slams Ambitious ‘tambaloslos’

MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Martin Romualdez made it clear yesterday that his leadership of the House of Representatives is “in order” and that moves to destabilize it should be “nipped in the bud” so that they could all focus on the work at hand.

Amid the past week’s political brickbats, Romualdez finally broke his silence about the purported wrangling in the House, saying: “The House cannot be distracted from finding legislative solutions to issues that affect the lives of ordinary Filipinos. Rather than engaging in politicking, I would rather that we, in the House, remain focused on more urgent matters.”

The administration stalwart and president of the country’s dominant Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) party noted that “there is still much work to do, so occasional moves to destabilize the House should be nipped in the bud.”

“The House of the People is in order. This same level of order is what allowed us to approve on third and final reading at least 29 of the 42 bills that comprise the legislative agenda of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.,” Romualdez declared.

Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto made the same call. “This ‘political tampuhan’ shall pass. This is a tempest in a teacup that will not wash away a strong alliance between close partners who share a common vision of a prosperous and peaceful country.”

“The fog of miscommunication will soon clear, the vow of cooperation will be renewed and attempts to drive a wedge between them shall have failed,” the congressman of Batangas’ sixth district added.

“The presidency has been served well by this working partnership, two House leaders pooling their expertise and experience in providing valuable counsel to the leader of the land,” Recto said.

The former senator stated that the country faced numerous challenges, but Congress remained dedicated to finding solutions instead of engaging in intrigues. He emphasized that claims of a cracked unity were unfounded and that no healing was required as no harm had been done.

Sara’s cryptic message

Although keeping mum on leadership squabbles in the House, Vice President Sara Duterte has gone from breaking up with her political party to taking to social media yesterday to post a cryptic message, calling out someone to stop being a “tambaloslos” — a grotesque demon-like mythical creature.

In her Instagram account, Duterte shared a self-portrait alongside the caption: “Sa imong ambisyon [In your ambition], do not be tambaloslos.”

This Visayan mythical creature, known for its large mouth and a penis the size of its own torso to confuse and mislead others, is also a Cebuano slang used to insult men who are all talk, inept, or foolish.

Duterte’s cryptic post leaves a lot to interpretation, but her communications team has not responded as of press time last night to queries on whether or not she was calling out a specific person.

But last week, the Vice President announced her resignation from the Lakas-CMD, saying that her stay in office “cannot be poisoned by political toxicity or undermined by execrable political powerplay.”

This happened a day after her close political ally, former president and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was demoted from senior deputy speaker to deputy speaker.

The House leadership said it was to supposedly “unburden” Arroyo of the heavy workload required of the post of senior deputy speaker.

But talk was rife that Arroyo was demoted for allegedly plotting to unseat Romualdez as speaker. She denied the rumor last Thursday, “being speaker once more is no longer part of my political objectives.”

Arroyo is a stalwart of the Lakas-CMD, serving as its president emeritus, while Romualdez, who is President Marcos’ cousin, remains its current president.

Duterte joined the Lakas-CMD in November 2021 and was made party chairperson as she announced her decision to run for vice president alongside Marcos.

After parting ways with Lakas-CMD, she reiterated her commitment to serve the country “with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. leading the way.”

But she called on Lakas-CMD’s leaders to “focus on the work that must be done and leave a legacy of a strong and stable homeland.”

GMA attempts to end controversy

Over the weekend, Arroyo spoke from her experience as the second-longest serving president of the country in saying that speakers of the House have always been the personal choice of every sitting president.

“In the Philippines, the House leadership has traditionally been closely associated with the sitting President, and this relationship of deep trust between Speaker and President has been beneficial in smoothly enacting the legislative agenda of the President,” she started.

“I think this is acceptable, because in the Philippines, the check and balance needed in any democracy has traditionally been well-provided by the Senate,” she said, as she admitted earlier thoughts of eyeing the speakership under the Marcos administration.
“When President Marcos won, I wanted to aspire for the Speakership of the House. But it soon became apparent that he was most comfortable with then Congressman Martin as Speaker. I quickly realized the wisdom embedded in that sentiment,” said Arroyo.

She then declared that some allies of Romualdez might have “misconstrued” some of her actions as “plotting a coup” when when she brought along “a delegation of congressmen to Korea for some official meetings.”

“By this disavowal, I hope that we can preempt any needless politicking so that the House and our President can focus on the job at hand with minimum distraction,” the former president said in a statement.

All power blocs or political parties under the super majority coalition in the House have nevertheless closed ranks and declared their unwavering support to the leadership of Romualdez.

HNP exodus from Lakas-CMD?

Although several political fronts pledged their support for Romualdez’s leadership of the House, some political observers noted that an exodus of members of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) regional political party from the Lakas-CMD is not far-fetched.

Duterte was the one who founded HNP and has its base in Region 11, covering Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro, Davao Occidental and Davao del Norte. So, her departure from Lakas-CMD leaves footprints out of the national party.

The number of  Lakas members had sky-rocketed shortly after the May 2022 elections after Duterte joined it in November 2021, partly because of the HNP.

A number of HNP leaders who are with Lakas-CMD told The STAR yesterday that there has been no instruction yet as to their leaving the party after Duterte’s actions. — Elizabeth Marcelo, Edith Regalado

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