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Duterte campaign funder denies plotting Speaker’s ouster

/ 11:38 AM March 29, 2017
Pantaleon Alvarez and Antonio Floirendo Jr.

Pantaleon Alvarez and Antonio Floirendo Jr.

Davao Del Norte Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr. on Wednesday denied plotting the ouster of his “friend” Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.

In a statement, the son of the late banana magnate Antonio Floirendo Sr. said he considered Alvarez a friend even though they had a “brotherly misunderstanding” years ago. He did not elaborate.

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Floirendo was the biggest campaign donor of President Rodrigo Duterte in the 2016 elections, having contributed P75 million.

“Let me make it clear that Speaker Bebot and I have no fight with each other. If ever there is a conflict, it could be likened to a brotherly misunderstanding which I am sure would be patched up in no time at all,” Floirendo said.

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Floirendo denied rumors he was plotting Alvarez’s ouster as Speaker and replace him with former president Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, who was stripped of her deputy speaker post by the House leadership following her no vote on the administration bill the death penalty.

“The turn of events all started with the rumor that I was behind a plot to oust Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and have him replaced by former president and now Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. I did not give any statement then to defend myself as there was no truth to it at all,” Floirendo said.

“If ever there is an iota of truth to the ouster plot, I am 100 percent not a part of it,” he added.

Floirendo admitted he was hurt that Speaker Alvarez sued him for graft before the Ombudsman over an alleged conflict of interest in a contract his banana firm Tagum Agricultural Development Inc. (Tadeco) entered with the Bureau of Corrections for a land lease at a time Floirendo was already a congressman. Tadeco is one of the country’s top banana plantation for export.

READ: Alvarez seeks probe of fellow Duterte ally Floirendo

“Admittedly I am hurt with the action of Speaker Alvarez against me. It not only affects me but also my family as well as the people of Davao del Norte,” Floirendo said.

“But that’s politics. What is important is that I know deep down my conscience that I have not done anything wrong nor have I committed any criminal act,” he added.

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Floirendo said he is still open to patching things up with the Speaker.

“I still offer a hand of friendship to Speaker Alvarez amidst all that happened for the benefit of the people of Davao del Norte. And to show my full support to the Duterte administration that is doing amazingly well for the past nine months,” Floirendo said.

Alvarez’s filing a graft complaint and calling for a congressional inquiry on Floirendo’s banana business signal an infighting between the most trusted men of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In a text message, Alvarez said he filed the graft complaint with the country’s interests at heart even though Floirendo is an ally of the President.

“Our friendship ends where the interest of our country begins,” Alvarez said.

He also denied suing Floirendo over reports the Davao lawmaker was behind moves in the lower house to oust him as Speaker.

“That’s of no moment. The only issue is the interest of our country,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez added that he is unfazed by ouster moves against him, rumors of which started to circulate after he stripped of committee and leadership posts the lawmakers who voted no to the administration bill restoring the death penalty.

One of those who was stripped of her deputy speaker post was former president Arroyo, who is rumored to replace Alvarez if the latter is ousted.

BACKSTORY: Alvarez laughs off rumors he’ll be executive secretary, GMA Speaker

“I have no problem with that,” Alvarez said. IDL

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TAGS: Antonio Floreindo Jr., House of Representatives, Pantaleon Alvarez, Politics, Tonyboy Floreindo Jr.
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