SPEAKER Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Monday vowed to vigorously defend the House of Representatives and its members against critics and threats and intimidation from any source.
In remarks marking the resumption of session, Speaker Romualdez hit back at those criticizing the institution he heads, saying they are “a dissatisfied few whose only intention is to sow divisiveness.”
“Tatayo ako laban sa sinuman na mananakot sa atin para masunod lamang ang gusto nila. Titindig ako – tayong lahat – para sa kapakanan ng bayan,” he told his colleagues. “Nagkakaiba man tayo ng pananaw at paniniwala, nagkakaisa tayong tumitindig kung intaatake ang ating institusyon. Hindi rin natin papayagan ang sinuman na piligan tayo sa paggampan ng ating mandato sa ating mga kababayan,” Speaker Romualdez, head of the 300-plus strong House of Representatives, said.
Speaker Romualdez said that even if the House is composed of diverse members, it would “remain steadfast as we set our differences aside and become fiercely united whenever the institution we courageously devote our efforts to, or any individual member of this chamber for that matter, is being threatened by opportunistic motives that aim to distract us from fulfilling our mandate.”
He defended the manner in which the House recently exercised its power of the purse by approving certain realignments in the 2024 national budget.
“The House was never lenient, nor did it favor anyone. The entire process was dedicated to uplifting the lives of our fellow citizens and staying true to the fundamental principles of the system of checks and balances in the government,” he said.
The Speaker said he and his colleagues only did their job the best way they could. “Wala pong personalan dito. Trabaho lang.”
He said he was prepared “to stand before anyone and vehemently defend our actions and decisions, even in the face of issues that threaten this institution’s integrity.”
“We have consistently upheld the principles associated with democracy, representation, fairness, pluralism, and even dissent,” he said.
Speaker Romualdez lamented that despite their hard work to accomplish the targets they have set for themselves, “certain sectors or individuals with misplaced priorities choose to malign and tarnish the positive image of this very institution we labored hard to achieve.”
However, Speaker Romualdez took comfort and pride in the high ratings he and his chamber posted in recent surveys.
The House leader said he shared such honor with his colleagues. The Octa Research 3rd quarter 2023 survey showed that the Speaker’s trust rating jumped significantly by 22 points, from 38 percent to 60 percent, between 2022 and 2023.
From July to October this year, his trust level rose by six points, from 54 percent to 60 percent.
In the same poll, his performance satisfaction mark climbed by 17 points between 2020-2022 and 2023, from 44 percent to 61 percent. From July to October 2023, his performance rating increased by six points, from 55 percent to 61 percent.
“Our efforts did not go unrecognized, as evidenced by the fact that, according to the latest surveys by reputable polling groups, we received the highest performance rating for the third quarter of 2023,” Speaker Romualdez said.
He reported that the Octa Research poll indicated that “we are on the right track in identifying and addressing the problems and issues that confront our kababayan in their daily lives.”
“Kung hindi dahil sa sipag at suporta ninyong lahat, hindi natin maibabalik ang tiwala ng mamamayan sa Kongreso. Ang mataas na pagkilala ng publiko są inyong Speaker at są ating Kapulungan ay bunga ng ating pagkakaisa at sama-samang pagkilos,” he said.
“Ito rin ay pagkilala na tama ang ating ginagawa sa institusyong into. Mahirap mang gawin ang ilang desisyon na ating hinarap, napatunayan natin na nasa tamang panig tayo ng kasaysayan,” he said.
The House leader recalled that when he was elected Speaker, he had set out “to pursue unity and ensure a fair and equitable distribution of government resources for the development of our regions, regardless of political affiliations.”
“I emphasized then that the politics of division has no place in this chamber. This still holds to this day, only now I reiterate this with a stronger resolve and greater conviction,” he said.
“But let it be said, never must be countenance or allow others not so likely-minded individuals who choose to malign or put down the image of this institution and dictate the direction we must go. I urge everyone to rally behind our moral compass – the will of the people,” he said.
He said the House answer to its critics is its numerous accomplishments since the 19th Congress convened in July last year.
“Let our outputs speak for our loyalty to our country, the Constitution, and the entire Filipino people. Our defense against those who endanger the integrity of the House of Representatives is to fulfill our utmost priority, which is to bring forth the most significant and responsive pieces of legislation,” he said.
Speaker Romualdez pointed out that by complementing the legislative agenda of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., “we stay true to our sworn duty despite pressure from all fronts.”
“Our most important clients, the constituents we are all duty-bound to serve, expect nothing less than results founded on honesty, trustworthiness, and moral uprightness – non-negotiable demands we must safeguard and deliver,” he said.
“Let us focus on the tasks at hand. When our goals are aligned, we could be an excellent force, propelling our country into unbridled progress. Let us ensure that our actions will promote development in all spheres of both the government and society,” he said.