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Monday, December 4, 2023

‘Moral high road’: Barzaga, Villafuerte defend Romualdez in tiff with VP Sara

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Senior lawmakers on Wednesday strongly backed Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez against Vice President Sara Duterte’s attacks, saying the House leader has taken the “moral high road.”

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. and National Unity Party (NUP) president and CamSur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said improving lives of Filipinos, not divisive politics, is the priority in lower chamber.

Barzaga defended the Speaker, saying Romualdez never said a bad thing about the Vice President despite being the obvious subject of her vicious insinuations following the alleged attempt to oust him.

“The Speaker held his horses and remained focused on his job as the leader of the House of Representatives amid this political rift. He never fired back with insults of his own. That shows strength of character,” said the lawmaker, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Barzaga said the support of various political parties for Romualdez’ leadership enabled the House to approve the priority bills of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC), including the proposed Maharlika Investment Fund (MIF).

He said political bickering is the last thing the country needs, especially since Marcos Jr. ran and won on a platform of unity with Duterte, who has already resigned from the ruling Lakas-CMD, of which Romualdez is the President.

The senior lawmaker, a former president of the National Unity Party (NUP), pointed out that Romualdez tremendously helped in pushing for the vice presidential candidacy of Duterte, who was eventually recruited to join Lakas.

Romualdez became close to the Vice President because he was among those who convinced her to run for the post under the UniTeam ticket, which was headed by his cousin, who is now the President.

“The Speaker worked hard for then Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s vice presidential bid because he genuinely believed that she would make a difference. Their rift is sad news and I hope that it will be mended soon,” Barzaga said.

Last Monday, the Vice President refused to mention the President’s middle name, Romualdez, in her speech for the Office of the Vice President’s (OVP) thanksgiving event for its partners dubbed Pasidungog (Tribute) at a hotel in Manila.

The President’s mother, former first lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, is the aunt of the Speaker.

Hindi ko na banggitin ang middle initial niyaMahal ko si apo BBM (I will not mention his middle initial…I love apo BBM),” said the Vice President, who conveyed her love and respect for the President.

At the height of the rumors of the alleged coup against Romualdez last month, Duterte posted a cryptic message on her social media accounts.

“In your ambition, do not be tambaloslos,” Duterte said, without naming the person she was referring to.

Wiktionary defines tambaloslos as “a mythical creature with a large mouth and penis found in Visayan, Bicolano and Mindanao folklore.”

Meanwhile, Villafuerte has called for greater unity in Congress and the Executive department, warning that political discord would only put at risk the superb level of cooperation and hard work by the supermajority alliance in the Legislature that has helped President Marcos get ahead in his first year in office on his vision for a prosperous and peaceful Philippines.

“Improving the lives of all Filipinos, as committed by President Marcos, is the priority in the House on the watch of Speaker Martin (Romualdez), in lieu of divisive politics, hence the need for greater unity,” he said.

Greater unity is crucial to sustaining the close working relationship of Malacañang Palace with the Congress, most especially with the House of Representatives, which, under the leadership of the Speaker, had passed in a year’s time, a majority of the priority bills of President Marcos meant to put flesh into his “Agenda for Peace and Prosperity.”

“Lest we forget, 31 million Filipinos gave President Marcos the biggest ever electoral mandate in our history in 2022 after capturing their collective imagination with his call for national unity behind his Bangon Bayan Muli (BBM) pledge to lift all boats,” Villafuerte said.

“Our nation’s leaders would break faith with this broad and deep public support for national unity were we to waste our time with vacuous political discord that could only break apart the supermajority coalition in both the House and the Senate—and wreak havoc on the Agenda for Peace and Prosperity of President Marcos to improve the lives of all Filipinos,” he said.

Villafuerte said Romualdez was spot on in citing what he had described as the “impressive performance” of the House, considering that on his watch as Speaker, the bigger chamber had processed 9,600 measures in the first regular session—comprising 8,490 bills; 1,109 resolutions; and one petition—and passed 577 of these measures.

This means that under the Speaker’s leadership, he said, the House had managed to process an average of 30 legislative measures per session day in the first regular session, or a tenth higher than the chamber’s output in the 18th Congress.

Villafuerte said, “The House needs to stay the course on the President’s agenda of high and inclusive growth for the benefit of all our people, as most Filipinos are obviously aware of, and appreciate, the headway made by Mr. Marcos in his BBM campaign pledge in his first year in office, as shown by his excellent satisfaction ratings in tracking polls.”

Image credits: Inday Sara Duterte/Facebook

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