LETTERS FROM DAVAO: Rep. Sid Ungab as Speaker?

Editor's Note: This column of estemeed  Davao based Newspaper columnist Serafin "Jun" Ledesma appeared in the EDGE Davao and the Philippine News Agency


Why not?

Amidst the melee over the search for Speaker in the House of Representatives which had been shrouded with immoral power tug-of-war, term sharing and multi-million-peso tag for a vote plus horse trading in committee chairmanships, the name of Rep. Isidro Ungab suddenly emerged.

“Sid”, as we call him, is come-backing congressman from the 3rd District of Davao City, the base of Hugpong Ng Pagbabago which is chaired by Presidential daughter the City Mayor Inday Sara Z. Duterte-Carpio. Sid, has been officially endorsed by HnP as the party’s bet for the Speakership.

That decision effectively put to rest the speculation on who will HnP support. This too provided a distinct and eloquent message to the sound of silence in Malacanang. The least expected to enter the arena for Speakership, Sid is in fact the most qualified among those who are salivating for the post. You know. He is not the son on X, the relative of X, a friend of X or the protégé’ of X. He is what he is and until his name came out of the blue, Ungab was just one the many congressmen that seems to be consigned to obscurity. Now that his name had been floated however maybe we can take time to see who Sid is and why HnP decided to back him up.

In his stint as legislator Congressman Ungab is best remembered for being the principal author of the then controversial Sin Tax Law which tripled the budget of the Department of Health. A banker before he was picked up by then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to run for City Councilor and later as congressman, he was chairman of two powerful congressional committees: Appropriation and Ways and Means. An incurable workaholic, the Appropriation Committee during his watch passed the National Budget on time for the Year 2014, 2015 and 2016 notably on the first day of January.

A fellow community journalist, Antonio Ajero, publisher and editor of Davao Edge, best describes Congressman Ungab: “Sid is the best choice specially if qualification and past performance are made the bases. I dare say that none of the other contenders being mentioned so far can surpass his humility and record in legislative prowess. On top of all is the confidence and trust that PRRD reposes in him. To me, his work ethic and humility are most impressive”. I do not want to add more to that, except for one chapter in the job history of Sid. He worked in the office of Ronnie Zamora in Malacanang during the Marcos era to pursue law in San Beda but that was abbreviated when Martial Law was proclaimed. As fate intervened, both of them are now members of the HOR.


Now, if those credentials are not enough, consider these: Ungab graduated from UP Los Banos with a degree of BS Agriculture Economics, Advance Bank Management Program from the Asian Institute of Management and Masters in Public Management from the Development Academy of the Philippines. 


If we community journalists from Davao know that much of Sid, President Duterte and Mayor Inday Sara even know him better when it comes to politics and public service – his humble beginnings and his dedication as public servant. This much I know: Duterte pulled him from retirement in politics after his three-term stint as city councilors and pitted him to run for congressman against the heavy weights in the 3rd District of Davao backed up by then Majority Floor Leader Prospero Nograles and other named political personalities in the district. He won that election and thereafter virtually ran unopposed to date.


In this hotly contested speakership I am certain that Sid Ungab must have been the most surprised person in Congress. But like the Duterte who virtually chartered the course of his political journey, the Speakership could be his destiny.