Surigao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, one of the few grizzled veteran-lawmakers of the incoming 19th Congress, has expressed his desire to become the next House Majority Leader.

(Photo from Robert Ace Barbers’s Facebook)

Barbers did so before Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez, the majority leader of the previous 18th Congress who is believed to be a shoo-in for the House Speakership.

“I intimated to Martin, I manifested my interest to be his wingman,” Barbers told the Manila Bulletin.

“If you would allow me to be your wingman, I have a little of the experience, I have a little of the expertise, and I can help you in pushing for the approval of the legislative agenda of the President as well as the Office of the Speaker,” he said, referring to what he said to Romualdez, who is his friend.

Barbers made the revelation after this reporter asked him what committee he would like to handle as chairman in the 19th Congress. The Mindanao solon served as chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs for the past six years covering the 17th and 18th Congress.

“Just like in the movie Top Gun: Maverick movie, I can be his (Romualdez) wingman,” Barbers said.

The choice of House Majority Leader is the prerogative of the sitting House Speaker.

One “problem” that Barbers could encounter in his bid for the majority leadership is him being not on the same political party as Romualdez. The former is a Nacionalista Party (NP) stalwart, while the latter is the president of the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD).

However, a solon who supports Barbers’s bid believes that it’s “not a longshot” for an NP congressman to get chosen as the next majority leader under a Romualdez speakership.

“It’s not the first time that it’s going to happen [that the speaker and majority leader aren’t party-mates), if ever it’s going to happen,” said the solon who declined to be identified.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (left) and President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (Facebook)

The solon pointed out NP “links” that could tilt things in the favor of Barners. He noted that President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was a former longtime NP member, while the latter’s sister, Senator Imee Marcos, continues to be with NP.

And then there’s President Marcos’s son, Ilocos Norte 1st district Rep. Sandro Marcos, who is also an NP stalwart. President Marcos and Romualdez are cousins.

“NP is one of the biggest political groups in the House and has already been loyal to the majority leader (Romualdez),” the solon added.

Incidentally, in his three years as majority leader during the 18th Congress, Romualdez partnered with two speakers who weren’t his party-mates–Alan Peter Cayetano of NP and Lord Allan Velasco of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).

Source: Manila Bulletin (