By Ben Rosario
Now the second largest political bloc in the House of Representatives, the Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI) is demanding “respect” as co-equal to district congressmen and has elected 1Pacman Partylist Rep. Michael “Mikee” Romero to lead them.
With Romero at the helm of the PCFI, party list members were swiftly assured of a larger role in legislative operations in the Lower Chamber by no less than the frontrunning candidates for the speakership who introduced themselves to the organization on Thursday.
“The party-list coalition bloc comprises 20 percent (of House membership), we are asking, of course, for 20 percent of the positions. Everything should be proportional share, we believe this is fair because we represent 30 million Filipinos who voted during the last election,” said the 47-year-old Romero, holder of two doctorate degrees and a successful businessman.
Romero is the vice chairman of the House Committees on Housing and Urban Development and on Sports and Youth Development. He has also been elected as vice chairman of the Special Committee on East ASEAN Growth Area in the 17th Congress.
Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (PDP-Laban, Marinduque), returning Representatives Alan Peter Cayetano (NP, Taguig) and Martin Romualdez (Lakas, Leyte) acknowledged the issue raised by the party-list group of being treated as “second class citizens” in Lower House.
All three assured Romero and the 49 representatives of proclaimed partylist organizations that all will be treated equally, and with the utmost respect as House members.
Romero said former speaker and re-elected Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez; incoming Representatives Paulo Duterte (HNP, Davao City) and Loren Legarda (NPC, Antique) have been invited to discuss their platform with the PCIF in another schedule.
Romero ran unopposed as the new leader of the PCFI as members acknowledged his “sterling leadership” in advocating for the grant of a more significant role for party-list representatives in running the affairs of the Lower House, said coalition secretary general and Bagong Henerasyon Partylist Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy.
Velasco welcomed Romero’s election as an additional guarantee of the passage of the remaining measures included in the Duterte legislative agenda.
Romualdez and Cayetano made the same observation. Like Velasco, both Romualdez and Cayetano are seeking Duterte’s endorsement to become speaker.
Romero said all three candidates for speaker aired their concern over the common complaint of party-list solons of being treated as “second class citizens” in the chamber.
Romero said the feeling of being left out or discriminated upon was common among past and the current crop of party-list representatives.
“We talked about being considered second class citizens in Congress and how to go about it. We are happy that we have this talk with the speakers,” he said.
Aside from Romero and Herrera-Dy, the new set of PCFI officers will be comprised of the following:
Representatives Ron Salo (Kabayan) deputy secretary general; Anna Villaraza-Suarez (ALONA), treasurer; Rico Geron (AGAP); Virgilio Lacson (Manila Teachers) and Anton Lopez (Marino) as vice presidents.
Board of trustees are Reps. Stephen Paduano (Abang Lingkod); Raymond Mendoza (TUCP); Shernee Tan (Kusug Tausug); Amihilda Sangcopan (Anak Mindanao); Sabiniano Canama (Coop-Natcco); Mariano Piamonte Jr. (A Teachers); Apid de los Santos (Ang Probinsyano); Bong Teves (TGP); Sonny Lagon (Ako Bisaya); Argel Cabatbat (Magsasaka) and GP Padierno (GP).
Representatives Rodante Marcoleta (Sagip); Alfredo Garbin Jr. (Ako-Bicol) and Nina Taduran (ACT-CIS) will be the spokespersons, while Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin (AAMBIS-OWA) will be chairperson emeritus.