(UPDATED) FORMER president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo endorsed on Saturday House of Representatives Majority Leader Ferdinand Martin Romualdez for speaker of the 19th Congress.
"I would like to advise the members of the Lakas-CMD that I am throwing my support for Majority Leader Martin Romualdez to be elected as House speaker in the next Congress. I urge all members of our party to do the same," said Arroyo, who is also the chairman emeritus of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).
"Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and I have been working together for decades in a joint effort to do our best to serve the Filipino people. Since 2010, our partnership involved our service as fellow members of the House of Representatives," she added.
Romualdez has referred to Arroyo as a "mentor" over the years.
"I would like to express my most sincere gratitude to our esteemed Lakas-CMD president emeritus, former president and returning Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for her words of support and encouragement, which mean a lot to me," Romualdez said, who is also Lakas-CMD president.
Romualdez also has the support of the Nacionalista Party to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives.
Romualdez's record as majority floor leader of the 18th Congress, shepherding essential legislation and forging compromise and peace among the varied members of the House, makes him well-suited for the speakership, according to the Nacionalista Party.
"The Nacionalista Party believes that Speaker Romualdez will be a vital cog as the incoming Ferdinand Marcos Jr. administration fulfills its vision of unity and prosperity for the country," they added.
Former senator Manuel "Manny" Villar currently leads the Nacionalista Party. This is also the political party of the late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
For its part, the members of the Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI) have also given their support to Romualdez.
"We firmly believe that Rep. Martin Romualdez, once elected Speaker of the 19th Congress, will be able to unite different political parties in the House of Representatives in support of the incoming president's legislative agenda. We also issue this statement to pledge our commitment in support of the legislative agenda to be presented by President Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. at the opening of the 19th Congress on the fourth Monday of July this year," the PCFI said in their statement.
The PCFI is associated with the National Unity Party, which has previously stated its support for Romualdez. There are 54 PCFI-affiliated lawmakers among the 61 party-list representatives.
Romualdez vowed to the House members that he would continue to be a consensus builder, treat them equally and listen to all viewpoints.
Meanwhile, the reported nomination of Sen. Cynthia Villar as Senate president of the incoming 19th Congress is expected to be contested by another nominee who is also a member of the pro-administration coalition in the Senate.
On Friday, May 13, six senators, composed of incumbents and returning ones, had a private meeting that political pundits said was to finalize their decision on who to support as the next Senate president. The incumbent Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto 3rd will step down on June 30 following the completion of his two terms as a senator.
A photograph posted in the Viber account of Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri showed him together with incumbent Senators Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, Mary Grace Poe and Maria Lourdes Nancy Binay. Returning senators JV Ejercito and Loren Legarda were also in the group photograph.
When asked if they met to decide on whom to support as Senate president, Zubiri quipped that they were only watching a basketball game and there was no political agenda discussed during the meeting.
Senate President Sotto said that the next Senate president need not be a lawyer. Sotto is not a lawyer. Former Senate presidents Manuel Villar and Blas Ople were also not lawyers.
Some of the past Senate president who were lawyers included the late president Marcos Sr., Jovito Salonga, Neptali Gonzales, Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr., Marcelo Fernan, Franklin Drilon and Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel 3rd.
"I've served nine Senate presidents and I've been honed by some of them. I know what the qualities of the next SP (Senate president) should be," Sotto said.
Sotto said the "chosen one" must possess a mastery of parliamentary rules and procedures, be a consensus builder, independent-minded, stern but compassionate. Always present and never late." There are three lawyer-senators whose terms will expire in 2025 and there are two presumptive lawyer-senators in the May 9, 2022 elections.
The three are Juan Edgardo "Sonny" Angara, Pilar Juliana "Pia" Cayetano and Francis Tolentino.
The presumptive senators who are lawyers include Francis Joseph "Chiz" Escudero and former House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.