Romualdez accepts House Majority Leader job

Robie de Guzman   •   July 9, 2019   •   1301

Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez

MANILA, Philippines – House Speakership contender, Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez has backed out of the race and accepted President Rodrigo Duterte’s suggestion for him to serve as Majority Leader instead.

Romualdez’s decision was announced by Albay 2nd District Joey Salceda, the designated spokesperson of the legislators who were part of the pro-Romualdez bloc.

“The unanimous decision is to follow the President. No ifs. No buts. No unless. No except. Martin is accepting the position of majority leader,” he said.

Salceda said Romualdez has expressed support for Duterte’s choice for speakers despite garnering 167 signatures from his fellow lawmakers to win the speakership post.

Duterte on Monday announced that his bet for the speakership race of the House of Representatives of the 18th Congress are Taguig-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Representative Lord Alan Velasco, who will share the term.

Cayetano would serve as speaker in the first 15 months and will be succeeded by Velasco in the remaining 21 months of the term.

READ: Duterte: Cayetano, Velasco to share term as House Speaker

READ: Cayetano thanks Duterte, rallies colleagues to work for pro-Filipino measures

Salceda said Romualdez is now preparing for his work as the majority leader, which has a term of three years.

“We asked the incoming Majority Leader to develop a robust and dynamic relations with the new Speaker,” he said.

“With the new leadership, the House of Representatives is now ready to deliver efficiently and effectively the national agenda, contribute inputs to the agenda and mobilise national consensus and public support to the Duterte program that would sustain the economic takeoff of the Philippines and spread its fruits leaving no one behind,” he added.

The Party-list Coalition, which consists of 54 party-list representatives, said they plan to vote for Cayetano for now.

“For the 15 months, for now we don’t know what will happen, right?” said 1-PACMAN Party-list Representative Mikee Romero, who serves as the Coalition’s president.

If it pushes through, this would be the first time that the lower chamber of Congress will have two representatives sharing the term as House Speaker.

 As of this time, lawmakers cannot say how will this set up affect the legislative agenda but assured that they won’t be a rubber stamp of the Duterte administration.

“We cannot be stamping pads especially with so many neophytes there. And that’s hard. I think it’s only the late strongman [Ferdinand] Marcos who can do that because of the situation,” said Abono Party-list Representative Conrado Estrella III.

Davao City Representative Paolo Duterte, Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) head Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and the members of the Duterte Coalition have so far remained silent on the President’s speakership endorsement. (with details from Grace Casin)

Duterte to recall cops, soldiers deployed in Taal eruption-hit areas

Robie de Guzman   •   January 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he is eyeing to withdraw the members of the police and military forces deployed in areas affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

“I am withdrawing my police in Taal, they have been there for so many weeks already, puno na ang lungs nila ng abo,” Duterte said in a speech during the 69th Founding Anniversary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Quezon City.

The president said he will leave the local government units and police assigned in areas surrounding Taal Volcano to enforce the law as mandated by higher authorities.

The military and police sent some of their personnel to Batangas and nearby areas to help evacuate and secure residents who were fleeing their homes when Taal Volcano first belched thick smoke and ash column on January 12.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recently downgraded Taal Volcano’s status to alert level 3, which prompted local authorities to allow residents from areas outside the seven-kilometer danger zone from the main crater to go back to their homes.

Alert level 3 means a decreased tendency towards hazardous eruption but Phivolcs said: “this should not be interpreted that the unrest has ceased or that the threat of a hazardous eruption has disappeared.” – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte, Panelo one-on-one interview deferred anew

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2020

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo and President Rodrigo Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The scheduled televised one-on-one interview of President Rodrigo Duterte with his spokesperson Salvador Panelo has been postponed anew.

In a televised advisory, Panelo said the interview with Duterte, which was supposed to be held Tuesday, will be moved to a later date because the president is feeling “under the weather.”

Panelo said it may be rescheduled next week.

The said interview was initially set on January 22 but was postponed due to “pressing matters.”

The president conducted his first televised interview with Panelo in September 2018 where they discussed wide-ranging topics on martial law in Mindanao, reopening of Boracay Island, increasing rice prices, his critic former Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, among others. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Panelo: One-on-one interview with Duterte to push through on Tuesday

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 28, 2020

After its postponement on January 22, the one-on-one interview with President Rodrigo Duterte will push through on Tuesday (January 28), said Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday.

The January 22 schedule for the one-on-one interview was postponed due to “pressing family matters”.

“Due to pressing matters, the tête-à-tête Part 2 of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo has been moved to January 28, 2020 at the Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace at 5:00 p.m.,” a previous media advisory read.

This will be the President’s second têtê-a-têtê. The first televised interview was held last September 2018.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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