Alvarez defends turncoats: Don’t call them ‘balimbing’
Lawmakers who jumped ship to the PDP-Laban should not be called “balimbing” (turncoat), Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez said on Wednesday as he encouraged other Liberal Party (LP) members to join the political party of presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
“I correct the media when they call them balimbing. I don’t look at it that way, for me this is loyalty to the country. If you believe in this administration’s program for meaningful change, then you align with the political party of the President,” Alvarez, Duterte’s preferred House Speaker, said.
Alvarez made the statement during a meeting with representatives from the Northern Luzon Alliance in a hotel in Quezon City after a lawmaker asked whether LP members should switch to join the majority coalition.
“It will be best if you transfer to PDP-Laban,” Alvarez said. “I don’t have a problem with other political parties because they entered into a coalition with PDP-Laban as a party. It would be awkward to have majority and minority LP members.”
But Alvarez said he had no objection to other LP members coalescing with PDP-Laban as members of a bloc.
On Wednesday, the Northern bloc in Congress pledged its support to presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
At least 22 of its 36 members were present and signed the manifesto of support. The Northern bloc includes representatives from the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and Cordillera Administrative Regions. It also includes Abono, ABS and Anac-IP party-list groups, and lawmakers who trace their roots to the north, Quezon City Rep. Bingbong Crisologo, Bulacan Rep. Linabelle Ruth Villarica and Antipolo City Rep. Romeo Acop.
Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson, president of the Northern Luzon Alliance, took his oath as PDP-Laban member, together with Pangasinan Rep. Rosemarie Arenas and Abra Rep. JB Bernos.
“The Northern bloc has common concerns,” Singson told reporters, citing irrigation, agriculture and tourism. “We always act as one when it comes to our common concern and also in support for the new administration.”
Singson said it would be easier to raise their concerns as member of the majority.
But another Ilocos representative fumed after he was ridiculed for joining the PDP-Laban.
Reelected Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas, the incoming House majority leader, on Wednesday confronted the son of former Ilocos Norte Roque Ablan for a Facebook post that ridiculed him for being a political turncoat.
The confrontation happened during the Commission on Appointments’ (CA) deliberations on the appointment of Sheriff Abas as Comelec commissioner. Abas’ appointment was eventually confirmed by the CA.
Also attending the hearing by the CA was Comelec Chair Andres Bautista who turned out to have hired Ablan’s son Kris Ablan as his consultant.
Ablan was also at the hearing and together with Bautista was called by Fariñas to speak during the hearing.
An irked Fariñas said he was informed by his children of an FB post of Ablan on Tuesday where the latter said: “So far my district representative is the first to jump to the PDP-Laban,” referring to him.
He said Ablan also posted another picture, this time showing Fariñas with LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas.
“So this makes it appear that Comelec is involved in partisan politics. He is an employee of Comelec, which is a constitutional body that should be impartial,” Fariñas said.
Fariñas explained that he campaigned for Roxas but Duterte won, and that Duterte’s camp went to him and offered him the position of majority leader in the incoming 17th Congress.
“So they invited me and I should be honored. Now you come out with a malicious post,” he told Ablan.
Fariñas was also irked that Ablan’s wife had commented on his FB post that the Ilocos Norte congressman was a lackey of President Aquino and “instrumental of wreaking havoc in the judiciary years back which gave him more PDAF.”
He said the comment of Ablan’s wife, Ria Berbano, was “libelous.”
Fariñas then asked Ablan if making these comments was part of his job as a Comelec employee and the latter replied in the negative.
“No not part of my functions. I apologize for the post,” Ablan told Fariñas. With a report from Christine O. Avendaño
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