Digong’s party eyes Alvarez as Speaker
DAVAO CITY—The camp of presumptive President Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte has chosen former Transportation Secretary Pantaleon Alvarez of PDP-Laban as its candidate for the speakership of the House of Representatives.
This was announced after a meeting between Alvarez, who regained to his congressional seat in the first district of Davao del Norte after 15 years, and Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles on Wednesday morning.
Nograles, who was also vying for the post, said he had to accept the incoming President’s decision.
“We can’t have two candidates for the position, and it has been decided that it will be Alvarez,” Nograles told the Inquirer.
Nograles said the new development would help in creating the “super majority” in Congress, which will “put the new President’s legislative agenda in place.”
“It will send a strong message that the President (Duterte) has the support of the majority of the House of Representatives,” he added.
He said he was anticipating that those joining the super majority would remain with their respective political parties, even if they support the new President and Speaker.
“Even members of the LP (Liberal Party) are willing to support the new Speaker,” he added.
According to Alvarez, he did not expect to be chosen as candidate for Speaker. “Not even in my wildest dream,” he told the Inquirer in an interview.
“I did not even dream of becoming a Davao del Norte congressman,” he added.
Alvarez said he only wanted to help Duterte, but was convinced by Davao del Norte Rep. Tony Boy Floirendo to run for Congress when the Davao City mayor did not file his certificate of candidacy on deadline.
He said he “took the party’s challenge to gun for the speakership with the goal of supporting and protecting” the incoming President. “I have to protect the President at all times,” he said.
At the Marco Polo hotel meeting Wednesday, Nograles was already addressing Alvarez as “Speaker.”
“That’s for sure. We have the numbers. It’s already in the bag,” Nograles said.
Alvarez said that during the campaign, Duterte was “already calling me Speaker.”
“I did not take it seriously because I still had to win a seat in Congress,” he said.
Alvarez was vice chairman of the house committee on transportation and communications aside from being a member of nine other committees when he represented the first district of Davao del Norte in 1998-2001.
In 2001, Alvarez was appointed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), which he held for 18 months.
In 2005, Alvarez was among the five former DOTC officials charged with graft before the Sandiganbayan in connection with the controversial construction of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.
The officials were accused of awarding the project to Philippine International Air Terminals Co. Inc. in 1996 despite “knowing” that the firm was “not a qualified bidder as it had no financial capability to undertake the project at the time of the pre-qualification under the BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) Law.”
In 2010, the antigraft court’s special second division dismissed the graft charges against Alvarez and two former DOTC undersecretaries after finding the allegations to have “no sturdy leg to stand on, both technically and substantially.” Nico Alconaba, Inquirer Mindanao and Inquirer Research
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