Cathy Binag: GF spat alone did not trigger Alvarez case vs Floirendo
(Editor’s Note: Ms. Cathy Binag has revised her statement on the ongoing row between Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and her partner, Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. after clarifying matters with the Speaker’s daughter, Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez. The update below reflects the clarification of Ms. Binag on the matter.)
DAVAO CITY – Davao del Norte Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr.’s live-in partner, Cathy Binag, clarified that she never said that Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s filing of graft charges against Floirendo was triggered by her spat with Alvarez’s girlfriend whom she had identified as Jennifer Maliwanag Vicencio.
However, she said the spat was indeed one of the factors that soured the relationship between Floirendo and Alvarez.
“But let me just make it clear that as to whether the incident with Miss Vicencio is correlated with the Speaker’s filing of case against my partner is beyond me,” Binag said in a media statement on Thursday.
Earlier, Alvarez’s daughter, Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez, said Binag’s “spin” on the filing of the case over the Floirendo-owned Tagum Development Corp.’s (Tadeco) deal with the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor) was “crass and juvenile.”
The younger Alvarez said Binag “exploited” their family’s personal relationships to twist the facts.
“My family and I are shocked that the spin on the issues has become so crass and juvenile,” she said.
The younger Alvarez also said it was “incredible” how Binag “exploited” “personal relationships…to twist an otherwise simple question of facts.”
“It’s completely appalling!” she added.
Binag, in an apparent reply to the younger Alvarez’s statement said: “Let me make it clear that my earlier statement that the problem between my partner, Rep. Tonyboy Floirendo Jr., and his erstwhile friend Speaker Bebot Alvarez started with me and the Speaker’s girlfriend, Jennifer Maliwanag Vicencio, is true.”
“It’s true that I had an altercation with Miss Vicencio during the opening of the Mas(s)kara Festival in Bacolod late last year. From then on, things spiralled out of control and one thing led to another,” Binag said.
But she maintained that she would not know if it indeed triggered the filing of the graft case as “I find it petty for some matured men to be burning bridges of friendship over a girls’ spat.”
She also apologized to the Alvarez family as “it was not my intention to drag (them) into the issue and was merely answering questions from the media who are asking about the Alvarez family.”
“If ever I hurt them, I am sorry. I never intended to hurt the Alvarez family because I know where they are coming from. Truth will set us all free,” Binag added.
Binag, in a Facebook chat, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that she and Paola had already talked and everything was fine between them.
“(Paola) was reacting to a question posed to her, which was based on a wrong premise,” she said.
The younger Alvarez also said the problem should be left with Floirendo and her father.
“But adults that they are, we expect the parties concerned to address the factual issues head-on. After all, in public service public interest is paramount and goes beyond the deepest bonds of friendship,” she said.
In his complaint dated March 13, Speaker Alvarez questioned the joint venture agreement (JVA) first entered into by Tadeco and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in 1969 and extended for another 25 years on May
Alvarez said Floirendo violated Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act because in 2003, he was still serving his second term as a district representative when the extension contract was signed.
“I can assure everyone that I was not in any way involved in the negotiation of the JVA between Tadeco and BuCor in 2003,” Floirendo said.
Floirendo, who said he had yet to receive a copy of the complaint, vowed to “face this case with clean hands and I am positive that the allegations therein will easily be disproved.”
Floirendo said if his tiff with Alvarez was fueled by personal matter, he was ready to face him and talk about it.
“If our quarrel stems from a personal matter between Speaker Alvarez and myself, I appeal to the Speaker to meet with me personally so that we can settle this like gentlemen,” Floirendo said.
But Floirendo said his apparent falling out with Alvarez started when rumors began circulating that Alvarez would be stripped of the speakership and be replaced by former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Alvarez booted Arroyo out as Deputy Speaker for voting against the death penalty bill.
Floirendo denied having a hand in any plot to oust Speaker Alvarez.
“I did not give any statement then to defend myself as there was no truth to it at all. I never attempted to talk to Arroyo nor would I ever support any plot to oust Speaker Alvarez, who in the first place, is a good friend of mine and whom I fully supported during the last election and in his bid for the speakership,” he said.
He added that if the ouster plot indeed existed, “I am 100 percent not a part of it.” he added.
Floirendo admitted that he was hurt by the action of Alvarez, saying it affected not only him and his family, but also the people of Davao del Norte.
“But that’s politics. What is important is that I know deep down in my conscience that I have not done anything wrong nor I have committed any criminal act,” he said.
Alvarez did not reply to the Philippine Daily Inquirer when sought for comment on Wednesday.
But in an interview with Noli de Castro on the same day, he admitted having a girlfriend but described the spin on it as a mere PR slant.
“Let’s look at it separately,” he said of the spat and the filing of the case against Floirendo.
“They’re putting a different slant on the case. For me, Kabayan, the country won’t benefit anything from those rumors. We have to focus on the contract of Tadeco that the government entered into,” Alvarez said.
He said the focus should remain on the possible injury to government by Floirendo’s banana firm as well as Floirendo’s conflict of interest, describing his relationship with his girlfriend as “not hurting the government.”
“We sued him before the Ombudsman, for the reason that when he was a congressman, he entered into a contract with government even though that is prohibited,” Alvarez added. SFM/rga
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