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Master politiko! Arroyo forces come out in droves to back Romualdez for Speaker

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Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo might be retiring from politics and start writing her memoir by next month, but it doesn’t mean she’s ready to cede control of the House in the 18th Congress.

The former President, widely regarded as the master politiko, is widely believed to be the force behind the rise of Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez as a viable contender in the race for Speaker.

Romualdez, a stalwart from Lakas which was Arroyo’s party during her presidency, has risen out of nowhere to leapfrog Taguig Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano of the Nacionalista Party under bilyonaryo Manny Villar as the most potent foe of Marinduque Rep. Lord Alan Velasco for the plum post.

Velasco is backed by the ruling Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, Nationalist People’s Coalition of bilyonaryo Danding Cojuangco, and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte (who engineered Arroyo’s takeover of former Speaker Bebot Alvarez’s post).

But President Rodrigo Duterte’s surprising move to renege on his promise to endorse a Speaker by June 28 and give the choice to Arroyo betrayed her vast influence on the former Davao City mayor.

“The ultimate power already announced he is ceding his power to GMA —who, by all accounts, has been actively lobbying for a Romualdez speakership,” tweeted political analyst Manolo Quezon.

“No wonder the attempt by Velasco to jump the gun,” added Quezon on Velasco’s release of a manifesto of support for his speakership on Juune 25 even before Arroyo could make her move.

Arroyo’s vast influence was evident in Romualdez’s show of force on
June 26 where he was flanked by Arroyo loyalists – Albay Rep. Joey
Salceda and Anakalusugan Representative-elect Mike Defensor – who did
the verbal assault.

“After Lord Allan appeared in the Palace, hoping to telegraph a presidential endorsement, this helps Romualdez instead,” said Quezon. “If he (Romualdez) bags it it will make him only the second speaker ever independently selected by members of the House, though perhaps less so as President officially threw in the towel in this contest,” he added.

Quezon questioned Duterte’s move to cede power of choosing Speaker to Arroyo especially its impact on his daughter’s nascent kingmaking skills.

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