MANILA (UPDATE) - Former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr may not have been proclaimed president yet but the jockeying for the country’s 4th highest position has begun.
Marcos' cousin, reelected Leyte 1st District Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, has been endorsed by the National Unity Party for the House Speakership in the 19th Congress.
“In a consultation with the NUP members of the House of Representatives it was unanimously agreed to endorse Rep. Romualdez as the Speaker for the coming Congress,” NUP spokesman Reginald Velasco said in a statement.
The party decided on this in recognition of his “exemplary service as Majority Leader of the 18th Congress and his proven ability as a consensus builder for the different political parties in the House of Representatives," Velasco added.
NUP is one of the political parties accredited by the Commission on Elections as a major national political party in the recently concluded elections and is poised to be one of the largest political parties in the 19th Congress.
Romualdez currently serves as Majority Leader after losing out on the controversial term-sharing agreement for the House Speakership brokered by President Rodrigo Duterte between incumbent Speaker Lord Allan Velasco and predecessor Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Velasco got 21 months and Cayetano served for 15 months. Velasco has been reelected to another term in the 19th Congress while Cayetano is poised to win a fresh mandate as Senator for 6 years.
"I think he will get the Speakership not because he’s a first cousin but because marunong talaga si Martin," Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda told ANC's Headstart on Friday.
Romualdez is also a close ally and political protege of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who had previously been touted as a potential speaker of the 19th Congress.
Romualdez played a key role in the successful 2022 election campaign of Marcos Jr and vice-presidential frontrunner Sara Duterte.
Arroyo, who previously endorsed Romualdez as House Speaker in the 18th Congress, is also another candidate for House Speaker, according to Salceda.
The former president had just secured a fresh term as Pampanga 2nd District representative.
"Dalawa lang ang pangalang pinaguusapan. Tutal chief-of-staff naman ni PGMA nung Speaker siya is si Martin. Martin has deep understanding of how Congress operates," he said.
(Only 2 names are being discussed. Martin was the chief-of-staff of PGMA during her speakership.)
Apart from being the country’s 4th highest official, the Speaker of the House shepherds the President’s legislative agenda including the annual national budget and serves as rear guard defense in cases of presidential impeachment.