And now, the next Speaker…
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) - March 28, 2019 - 12:00am

Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez is the “comeback kid” in the House.

He was Representative for three terms – from 2007 to 2016. All congressmen, I believe, are angling for the post of Speaker. So must have  Romualdez at the start of the campaign period for the  midterm elections this coming May. To his pleasant surprise, Sara Duterte-Carpio, chair  of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago, announced during a campaign caravan in Tacloban City that she was endorsing him for the plum post.  She said he  will be able to steer “a more productive and responsive” House of Representatives.

There was no resistance from possible aspirants for the speakership. Rather the words of endorsement were aplenty.

Former Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. cited Romualdez’s good record as “a constructive critic” when he headed the independent bloc in Congress. “During my speakership, he headed the independent minority group. He  proved to be supportive and helped me in pushing important measures.” Romualdez was then president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats.

“Undoubtedly Romualdez is very competent to lead the House given his track record as lawyer and public servant,” House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep.Danilo Suarez said.

“We need a competent and honest man like Congressman Romualdez. He has good public relations and no derogatory issue. Congress will be very interesting with his leadership. He is good, responsible, very bright and intelligent,” Suarez continued.

Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice supports Martin as the next House Speaker. “He has no corruption issue, and that will work to his advantage,” Erice said. 

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano said, “He is a good and brilliant lawyer who never lost a case. He is also fair and a charming gentleman.”

Those legislators know whereof they speak. Martin Romualdez has a good academic record, and a healthy lawyering career. He earned his bachelor of arts degree from Cornell University (this is confirmed) in Ithaca, New York, and studied law at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. He holds a certificate for special studies in administration and management from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass, USA.

A lawyer, he is the current president of the Philippine Constitution Association (PHILCONSA).

He served for three consecutive terms as representative of the 1st district of Leyte. During his nine-year term in Congress he was the leader of the House’s independent bloc. He supported massive investments in infrastructure that spurred progress and development. He championed small businesses and industries in his district and the plight of disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of society, PWDs (Persons with Disabilities), senior citizens, the sickly and the poor. 

One of his benchmark legislations during the 16th Congress was the passage of House Bill 1039, a law exempting persons with disabilities from paying value-added tax on certain goods and services. This bill was signed into law on March 23, 2016, and is now known as Republic Act 10754 or an act expanding the benefits and privileges of people with disabilities. He was the principal author of House Bill 1036, which seeks to promote the establishment of microbusiness enterprises (MBEs) by providing incentives and benefits to barangay initiatives. His legislative record from the 14-16th Congress was a testament to his compassion for public service and exemplified his malasakit for the marginalized.

Chairman of the board of several corporations, such as in  banking and mining,  Martin turned to his own corporate and private network for assistance to  the Yolanda super typhoon-stricken areas across Central and Eastern Visayas. He considers the Yolanda disaster as his most challenging and trying experience and has taken a special interest in working towards reforms and legislative measures to ensure that no one else will  ever experience the tragedy they suffered.

Martin, 46, tall, charming and accessible, continues to be inspired by simple displays of malasakit and determined to give back to others after having witnessed and been on the receiving end of the monumental display of generosity and charity from donors and sympathizers during his district’s  devastation and desolation from Yolanda.

Having finished his third term in Congress in 2016,  his wife, former Bb. International Yedda Marie Kittittildtvedt-Romualdez  ran, and won his seat in the 17th Congress. She is running as the Tingog Party-list No. 1 nominee in the coming midterm election. 

 *      *      *

Outstanding women leaders of Isabela were scheduled to be given awards last Monday for their contributions in various fields. 

The awardees from the 4th District are: Laynie Panganiban for her exemplary performance in socio-civic work; Mayor Leticia Sebastian for her impeccable and selfless service in the government; Dr. Noime Liangco for her undying passion for the protection of the environment and improvement in agriculture; and The 4th Impact composed of sisters Almira, Irene, Mylene, and Celina Cercado for their impressive international participation in arts and music. The winners from the five other districts selected through the Isabela  province Gender and Development Committee coordinated through its focal person Hortencia Gallapon are: Hon. Marilou Sanchez of San Guillermo; Maridee Belagan of Naguilian; Jocelyn Lennon of Roxas; Drolly Claravall of Ilagan City; and Rosa Baua of Reina Mercedes.

They were all honored by  Earthsavers, a UNESCO Dream Center founded by former senator and congressman Heherson Alvarez, in partnership with the Isabela provincial government led by Gov. Faustino Dy III, International Theatre Institute (ITI),  National Commission for Culture and the Arts Gad committee headed by executive director Rico Pableo, and the Supreme Master Ching Hai,  TV and PIA Region 2  Office. The awardees were endorsed by the Philippine Commission on Women and were awarded at a program staged as a culminating activity of International Women’s Month  on March 25 in Ilagan, Isabela, and in  the observance as well of World Theatre Week.

  President Mary Ann Arcega-Dy of the Isabela Green Ladies Organization (IGLOO), the primary organization of women in the province, was the special guest speaker at the event held at the provincial capitol.

According to UNESCO Artist for Peace and ITI Social Change Network president Cecile Guidote-Alvarez, this year’s official campaign theme, “Balance For Better,” envisions “a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choice, be it to participate in politics, get an education, have an income, and to live in societies free of discrimination and bias.”  

The recognition ceremony aimed to showcase the continuous fight of women to end all forms of violence that confront them, and celebrate their strength and perseverance to fight for women’s rights and gender equality.

The awardees will also be nominated for The Outstanding Women in The Nation’s Service (TOWNS) 2019 Award chaired by former secretary of Health Esperanza Cabral.

*      *      * 

Email: dominitorrevillas@gmail.com

HOUSE SPEAKER MARTIN G. ROMUALDEZ
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