Lots of cash, tickets to Europe in House raffle
Lots of cash and plane tickets to Europe were among the lavish raffle prizes given away at the Christmas party for members of the House of Representatives on Wednesday night, but no one would admit who spread the cheers in the chamber.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a leader of the opposition bloc in the House, said Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr., donated P1 million as cash prize, divided into one individual prize of P500,000 and 10 prizes of P50,000 each.
In a phone interview with the Inquirer, however, Floirendo denied he gave away P1 million.
“That was a gift for the Speaker,” he said in Filipino. “That’s not true … You are making up a story.”
It was unclear from Floirendo’s response whether he meant he gave P1 million as a personal gift to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez or that he gave away such an amount at all.
He abruptly cut off the line and did not reply to text messages seeking clarification.
Lagman, whose group calls itself the “Magnificent 7,” said Alvarez chipped in P500,000.
The money was split into two individual prizes of P250,000, he said.
But another lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, corrected Lagman, saying Alvarez actually gave out P1 million for two P500,000 prizes.
The lawmaker said the big prizes were “pledges” and no raffle winner went home with more than P250,000.
Other contributors included a northern Luzon congressman who donated P250,000 for a single raffle prize.
One representative from southern Luzon contributed P249,000 for another raffle prize.
Alvarez also denied he gave out cash.
Neither did he receive P1 million from Floirendo, he said.
“That’s not true,” he said in a text message to the Inquirer.
Speaking on the phone, Alvarez said he did not know who contributed for the raffle prizes. “I left early,” he explained.
“They were teasing me that I should raffle off something. But I said, where would I get the money,” he said.
Alvarez said there was nothing wrong if Floirendo gave cash for the raffle prizes because that would be personal funds.
“That’s not the people’s money,” he said.
Lagman admitted he won P250,000.
Other items that were raffled off included plane tickets to Europe.
Floirendo, son of the late banana king Antonio Floirendo Sr., was the biggest donor to President Duterte’s election campaign, contributing P75 million.
Addressing the gathering as the raffle prizes were awarded, Floirendo talked about forging “unity” in the 293-seat chamber.
At least two lawmakers expressed discomfort at his statements because he seemed to imply that there was a price tag to their cooperation.
Asked to comment on Floirendo’s remarks, Lagman said he opted not to raise a fuss. “I did not want to make any statement on that because I did not want to destroy the fellowship,” he said.
As opposition leader, he said he wished to tell his colleagues that his dissenting voice was nothing personal.
“I have no hatred in my heart, only principles of conviction,” Lagman said.
As for the cash prize he won, Lagman said in jest: “I’m sharing a sizable portion of that with the media.”
The congressman raffled off a number of prizes at the Christmas party organized for reporters by the opposition bloc on Thursday.
Prizes ranged from P1,000 in gift certificates to a P20,000 cash prize, plus a few appliances, including a television and a refrigerator. —WITH A REPORT FROM GERMELINA LACORTE/rga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.