Do Not Read This: Diego Cagahastian from Opinyon
Do Not Read This

The speakership, a vice presidency run -- Martin Romualdez passed these up for a media empire to replace ABS-CBN?

Oct 28, 2021, 2:54 AM
Diego S. Cagahastian

Diego S. Cagahastian

Columnist

REMEMBER when Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco were contesting the speakership of the House of Representatives in October, 2020?

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez was a dark horse in that contest, and we recall Cayetano saying that in a fair and open raising of hands, Romualdez will beat Velasco hands down, with a wide margin even.

That is how popular Martin was with his fellow congressmen, said Cayetano, obviously disparaging his rival Velasco.

Yet President Duterte, who was then brokering a term-sharing deal between the contenders, admitted he told Romualdez, "Huwag ka nang makialam dito (speakership fight)."

The President promised Martin instead his full support should he run for Vice President in 2022.

Romualdez showed his deference to the boss, Digong, and settled for the position of Majority Floor Leader.

The vice presidency was something that can be considered far off, and a promise of support even from a sitting President is no big deal.

And look at what happened: it is presidential BFF Senator Bong Go who is running for VP, and Duterte had no choice but to eat his word of support for Martin.

Yet the astute and smart politician that he is, Martin Romualdez could have been dissuaded by Duterte not to pursue his speakership dream in return for a sweetener that he just could not pass up. Or is it something that he asked for in return for following the President's order?

The ABS-CBN franchise.

Was it possible that this President who is known to promise anything to anybody dangled to Martin the then revoked franchise of ABS-CBN to the highly prized radio frequencies it has been using?

We just do not know. But because my favorite writer and public intellectual Christopher Hitchens said we humans are pattern-seeking primates, we are constrained to just study the pattern and peruse the events following Velasco's assumption to the speakership and Romualdez's taking the post of majority floor leader.

==From September, 2018 to June, 2019, Romualdez's Prime Media Holdings Inc. ($:PRIM) was trading in the vicinity of 1.16, then had a brief uptick to 1.80 before sliding to record low of 0.70 at the start of the pandemic in March, 2020.

== $:PRIM stayed at the 0.85 range until the first week of February 2021 when it had a dizzying parabolic leap to 3.50 and had a swing high, swing low since then. Quite interesting for a dormant company which has yet to operate.

==Romualdez-owned Philippine Collective Media Corp. (PCMC) which includes 14 provincial FM radio stations and a TV station in Tacloban City and several broadsheet and tabloid newspapers which have national circulation will have a backdoor listing at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) through Prime Media Holdings Inc.

== PCMC has ongoing talks with ABS-CBN for a partnership broadcast agreement, a purely business deal that grosses over the hurt feelings of ABS-CBN owners and executive because Rep. Martin Romualdez was one of those who shepherded in Congress the denial of a new franchise for the radio-TV behemoth.

==On July 10, 2020, Romualdez and 69 other congressmen and congresswomen voted against the renewal of ABS-CBN’s broadcasting franchise, 70-11.A few months later, Martin’s PCMC was granted a congressional amendment to upgrade its radio-TV franchise from “regional” to “nationwide.”

Yesterday, $:PRIM woke up from its slumber with a respectable green elephant candle opening at 1.54 and closing at 1.82, for a 17.42 percent increase, actually the leader among gainers in the market that day. Today, Oct. 28, the stock opened at 1.73 for a slight correction. (To be continued


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