Governor feels heat in feud between 2 legislators
TAGUM CITY — “I cannot allow myself to be pulled by these two forces.”
Davao del Norte Gov. Antonio Rafael del Rosario chose to be party-less after bolting the Liberal Party but keeping himself from joining the now ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
The reason? He wants to avoid choosing between the province’s two legislators who are now fighting—Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Rep. Antonio Floirendo.
“We can feel it. The tug-of-war is strong,” the governor said.
Del Rosario said the feud between Alvarez and Floirendo was causing tension in the province.
By choosing to be an independent, Del Rosario said he hoped he would gain access to both Floirendo and Alvarez, who were also both supporters of President Duterte.
The governor said unifying the two legislators would benefit the province because both had contributed much to their districts.
The Floirendos’ patriarch, Don Antonio, started doing business in Mindanao after World War II where he set up Mindanao Motors Corp., Davao Motor Sales, Nenita Stock Farms and several other companies before he set up Tagum Agricultural Development Co. (Tadeco) in 1950.
The Floirendo patriarch had been considered as an industrialist who placed his bets on Mindanao.
Del Rosario said he would remain an independent candidate in the 2019 midterm elections unless the two feuding legislators settled their differences.
Relations between the two Davao del Norte congressmen turned acrimonious last year following a well-publicized spat of their partners.
Alvarez initiated an investigation against Floirendo, his childhood friend, for alleged pecuniary interest in a joint venture agreement between the government and Tadeco.
The agreement went through six justice secretaries who found no irregularity as the deal would benefit the province through increased income from banana exports.
In the middle
Last month, Floirendo was removed from PDP-Laban for violations that he denied committing.
In a strongly worded statement, Floirendo said a party leader “has resorted to fabrications of stories and lies just to advance his personal interest and his personal crusade against me and my family.”
Alvarez is PDP-Laban secretary general.
Floirendo is currently with Kusog Baryohanon, a local party he helped founded.
“If I choose a party, obviously I’ll be siding with one of them and if I’m siding with one of them how can I call for unity?” Del Rosario said.
The governor also appealed to local officials to help him “in this very difficult challenge I’m facing.”
“It’s a very difficult path, it’s a very difficult problem. I can’t do it on my own,” he said. —Frinston Lim
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