Amid ‘political bickering’ with VP Duterte, lawmakers rally behind Romualdez

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 8) – Lawmakers have rallied behind Speaker Martin Romualdez after Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga and Vice President Sara Duterte traded barbs over the House leader and his supposed involvement in the presidential daughter’s VP bid in the 2022 election.

On June 7, Barzaga claimed that Duterte had made “vicious insinuations” against Romualdez. Citing a Duterte speech on June 5, he said that she refused to mention President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s middle name “Romualdez.” The speaker and the president are first cousins.

He defended Romualdez, saying he had taken the moral high road by continuing to focus on the administration’s legislative agenda instead of “firing back with insults of his own.”

Barzaga also claimed that Romualdez had “tremendously helped in pushing for the vice-presidential candidacy of Duterte.”

In response, Duterte on the same day said that Romualdez “had absolutely nothing to do with my decision to run for Vice President,” and denied that he had “tremendously helped in pushing” her campaign. She disclosed that it was Senator Imee Marcos, sister of the president, who had persuaded her to run for VP.

She described the recent bickering as “just a facet of democracy and should not be used to equate with governance,” adding that the Marcos administration was “stable and strong.”

Amid the bickering, Senior Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr.; PDP-Laban Deputy Secretary General and Surigao Del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel; and National Unity Party President and Camarines Sur. Rep. Luis “LRay” Villafuerte in separate statements defended Romualdez and called for unity amid the “divisive politics.”

“One thing is clear: Speaker Martin has created an atmosphere of certainty and trust. His strong, compassionate leadership brought all of us together to work on a single vision: to pass measures focused on achieving a prosperous, inclusive and resilient Philippines,” Gonzales said.

Pimentel said in his statement that “tensions have already been defused following the leadership movements in the House. Let us not exaggerate this anymore.”

Meanwhile, Villafuerte said Romualdez’s priorities were “improving the lives of all Filipinos, as committed by President Marcos…in lieu of divisive politics, hence the need for greater unity.”

Gonzales, PDP-Laban Treasurer; Pimentel; and Villafuerte are members of parties which last month allied with Lakas–CMD, the ruling party in the House. Romualdez is Lakas-CMD president.

READ: 7 political parties ally with Lakas-CMD

This “political bickering” comes after rumors last May of an attempt to oust Romualdez from the speakership allegedly led by former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is reportedly in an alliance with Duterte.

A day after Arroyo, Lakas–CMD's president emeritus, was demoted to Deputy Speaker, Duterte resigned as Lakas–CMD chairperson.

READ: Sara Duterte leaves Lakas-CMD, hints at ‘political powerplay’