AT LEAST 167 lawmakers have signed a manifesto of support to the House speakership bid of Leyte Representative Martin Romualdez, said Anakalusugan Party-list Representative Mike Defensor Thursday, July 4.

"I have seen the manifesto for support for Congressman Martin and I saw the signatures of 167 congressmen from different political parties and blocs of the 18th Congress," he said.

He added that last month, only 80 names were shown to President Rodrigo Duterte, but "the numbers have grown to 167 as of the moment," added Defensor.

Majority Leader Capiz Representative Fredenil Castro, for his part, said he would not reveal the exact number who signed their support for Romualdez, but added that Romualdez would have a landslide win.

Most of the lawmakers at the House have collectively decided to vote for the Leyte representative on July 22, said Defensor and Albay Representative Joey Salceda.

"These congressmen are committed in gathering signatures for Congressman Martin to ensure his overwhelming victory in the opening of Congress," said Defensor.

“Right now, the President (Rodrigo Duterte) is sticking to his position not to interfere in the speakership. But I believe that he will eventually change his position and endorse Congressman Martin as Speaker once he sees the finally tally in the manifesto of support,” added Defensor.

He said the lawmakers will vote for Romualdez, since the Leyte lawmaker poses a vast experience and knowledge in legislating.

Romualdez also has the leadership qualities for the position and have good ties with most congressmen, he added.

“There are two main criteria in selecting who will be the next Speaker. First is the competence to lead, the knowledge and experience to steer Congress given the diverse and complicated issues that will confront the House. The second is the ability to lead, to build consensus, having the individual trust and respect of each member based on their individual sensitivities and biases. Based on these criteria, majority of congressmen have chosen Congressman Martin as Speaker,” he said. (Ryniel Berlanga/SunStar Philippines)