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Presidential ride: Duterte gives Romualdez a lift, calls him ‘Mr. Speaker’

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

MANILA – Incoming Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez had some bonding time with President Rodrigo Duterte after reportedly sharing a ride aboard the presidential car on Monday en route to the Manila airport.

Politiko learned that Duterte and Romualdez accidentally have crossed paths during the wake of the late Sendeng Loo Gaisano inside the Santuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park before dawn on Monday, wherein the two were able to talk privately.

Some eyewitnesses have heard that Duterte called Romualdez “Mr. Speaker” while talking to him in front of other high-ranking government officials present during the wake of Mrs. Gaisano.

The Chief Executive later invited the returning Leyte solon to accompany him going to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Pasay City where he later conducted a surprise inspection. Duterte has apologized to the stranded passengers affected by the flight delays and cancellations due to a lightning alert on Sunday.

“Mr. Speaker (Romualdez), join me… let’s check the airport,” Duterte told Romualdez while in front of other officials.

Contrary to the pronouncement of Palace Spokesperson Salvador Panelo that Romualdez only followed the presidential convoy all the way to NAIA Terminal 2, it was no less the President who offered a ride to the Speaker-wannabe. Romualdez rode with the President inside his bullet-proof Toyota Land Cruiser.

Romualdez is one of the five aspirants for the House leadership this coming 18th Congress next month.

In a statement, Romualdez has appealed for a multi-partisan Congressional support in securing additional funding for the rehabilitation and upgrade of all vital airports in the country.

“If necessary, we may have to double that amount in the 2019 national budget. This requires a multi-partisan support from both the Senate and the House of Representatives,” said Romualdez.

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