Nothing personal: Speaker denies ‘fighting GFs’ led to case vs solon
The infighting between two trusted men of President Rodrigo Duterte just became more apparent following reports that their spat started with a rift between their girlfriends.
Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez on Wednesday brushed off as mere “PR slant” the news reports he had a girlfriend outside his marriage.
In a radio interview with DZMM, Alvarez said the reports that came out about his supposed girlfriend was a result of a “PR” operation against him after he filed a graft complaint against Davao Del Norte Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr.
Alvarez sued Floirendo even though both of them are trusted men of President Rodrigo Duterte. Floirendo was Duterte’s biggest campaign donor in the 2016 elections, having contributed P75 million.
In the DZMM interview, Alvarez was asked by the host Noli De Castro about the news reports his spat with Floirendo was because of a rift between the two congressmen’s girlfriends.
Alvarez’ supposed girlfriend reportedly had a spat with Floirendo’s girlfriend Cathy Binag, causing the falling out between the two lawmakers.
A Philippine Star report said the women had a shouting match in public in October last year when both congressmen joined President Duterte at the Masskara Festival in Bacolod city.
Alvarez did not deny his having a girlfriend, and merely brushed the reports off as a mere PR slant.
“Iyan po Kabayan, trabaho na po ng PR iyan (That’s the job of PR men),” Alvarez said.
Alvarez was quoted in the Star report as admitting his affair, but at least his relationship did not cause any injury to government.
The Speaker is still presently married with Emelita Alvarez, while Floirendo was the former husband of ex-Miss Universe Margarita Moran.
In his complaint affidavit, Alvarez accused Floirendo of violating Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which penalizes public officials “directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.”
Alvarez said Floirendo was a Davao Del Norte representative when his banana firm Tagum Agricultural Development Inc. (Tadeco) renewed its joint venture agreement (JVA) with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in the lease of 5,308.36 hectares of land at the Davao Penal Colony for a banana plantation.
Alvarez said this was a clear case of conflict of interest because the Constitution prohibits members of Congress from entering into contracts with government.
In the radio interview, Alvarez was asked by De Castro if the spat between his girlfriend and Binag did not have anything to do with Alvarez’s graft complaint against Floirendo.
Alvarez answered in the affirmative.
“So parang sinabi niyo na, okay, may away ang mga babae namin, pero iba namang kuwestiyon ito, parang ganoon?” De Castro asked Alvarez.
(So what you’re saying is, okay, our girlfriends have a spat, but we are questioning another issue altogether?)
Alvarez answered: “Opo, opo. Tingnan natin ng hiwalay.” (Yes, yes, let’s look at it separately).
Alvarez said the operators against him are putting a slant to his filing a graft complaint against Floirendo.
“Sa PR lang po iyan, binibigyan ng ibang slant iyong kaso. Ang sa akin naman Kabayan, ay iyong tsismis na iyan, hindi po kikita ang bansa diyan. Kailangan po tumutok tayo doon mismo sa kontrata ng Tadeco na ipinasok ng gobyerno,” Alvarez said.
(That’s only PR. They’re putting a different slant on the case. For me, Kabayan, the country won’t benefit anything from those rumors. We have to focus on the contract of Tadeco that the government entered into.)
A source said Alvarez’s girlfriend is a fixture in the House of Representatives, attending various events with the Speaker.
It was “understood” that she was the girlfriend of the Speaker, the source said.
Floirendo was said to be getting the numbers to oust Alvarez as Speaker and replace him with former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, who was earlier stripped of her deputy speaker post by the House leadership when she voted no to the pet bill on death penalty.
Floirendo denied he was behind a supposed ouster plot, calling Alvarez a “friend” with whom he had a “brotherly misunderstanding.” He did not elaborate.
Speaker brushes aside intrigues
Confounded with these intrigues, the Speaker said the focus should remain on the possible injury to government by Floirendo’s banana firm as well as Floirendo’s conflict of interest.
“Kinasuhan naman natin siya doon sa Ombudsman, sa kadahilanan na bilang Kongresista po, bawal po na kumuha ka ng kontrata sa gobyeryo,” Alvarez said in the radio interview.
(We sued him before the Ombudsman, for the reason that when he was a congressman, he entered into a contract with government even though that is prohibited.)
As to the supposed ouster plot against him, Alvarez had this to say: “Go ahead.”
Alvarez said he was willing to let go of his Speakership anytime.
“Wala po sa akin ‘yun, Kabayan. Go ahead… Hindi ko naman pinangarap ‘yung puwesto na iyan, so I can let it go anytime,” Alvarez said.
(That’s nothing to me, Kabayan. Go ahead… I did not dream of this position anyway, I can let it go anytime.)
In an interview with this reporter, Cathy Binag, Floirendo’s girlfriend, said Alvarez’s wife Emelita even goes to her and Floirendo for help every time she has problems with the Speaker.
Binag did not elaborate what these problems are. She also chose to reserve her statement when asked for comment about her reported spat with Speaker’s girlfriend.
“Tumatakbo si Emily sa amin to complain sa ginagawa ni Bebot sa kaniya,” Binag said, referring to Alvarez.
(She runs to us to complain about what Bebot is doing to her).
To recall, Speaker Alvarez wanted the Congressional Spouses Foundation to vacate its office in the House of Representatives supposedly because Congress needed space.
That foundation of lawmakers’ spouses happened to be headed by Speaker’s wife. IDL
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