LEYTE Rep. Martin G. Romualdez, who has been reelected and is poised to assume the House speakership in the next Congress, said his colleagues are looking at proposals to postpone the barangay elections in December to save funds that could be used for the country’s pandemic response.
“We will have savings of P8.141 billion that we can use for COVID-19 response and economic stimulus such as ayuda (cash aid),” he told reporters in mixed English and Filipino after meeting his allies in a luxurious hotel on Thursday, based on a video shared by his camp.
The next Congress is already eyeing the passage of a pandemic response legislation that would be named after the famous initials of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.
“It will allow the incoming president to harness the resources available during the closing period of 2022 and pass measures that are needed for the pandemic, hopefully endemic stage of this COVID,” Mr. Romualdez said.
The solon, cousin of Mr. Marcos, said village officials had been asking them to postpone the democratic practice that could possibly replace those who would seek reelection.
A barangay is the smallest political unit in the Philippines and its officials are deemed as government’s frontline leaders.
“We shall consider [their proposal],” said Mr. Romualdez, noting that the proposal would likely be among the priority items of the next Congress.
Present at Thursday’s meeting were PDP-Laban president and Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi and Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr., who has been tapped by Mr. Marcos, Jr. to lead the Interior department.
“This is the message of unity, and this is what’s happening at the House of Representatives,” he said of the emerging coalition, which academics say is a coalition of influential clans in the country.
Mr. Marcos campaigned on a general platform of unity and his tandem with presumptive vice president Sara Duterte-Carpio, daughter of the incumbent president, was labeled as the ‘Uniteam’.
Mr. Romualdez has been meeting with known powerbrokers in Philippine politics and members of the incoming Congress.
House Speaker Lord Allan Q. Velasco and former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who will be taking a seat in the incoming Congress as representative of her home province Pampanga, have already endorsed his speakership bid. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza