Alvarez to Floirendo: Don’t divert from issue of graft complaint
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday told Rep. Antonio Floirendo to not divert the conversation from the real issue of the graft complaint following the latter’s statement on their personal relationship matters.
Floirendo earlier said that if his quarrel with Alvarez stemmed from a personal matter between them, he would like to appeal to the Speaker to meet with him personally to settle the matter “like gentlemen.”
“Alam mo, kung pagkakaibigan lang ang pag-uusapan, over a cup of coffee sandali lang ‘yan. Pero ang sinasabi ko, huwag nating ilihis ang usapin,” Alvarez said in an interview with DZMM.
(You know, if it’s about friendship we’re talking about, it could quickly be done over a cup of coffee. But what I’m saying is, let’s not divert from the issue.)
“Balik tayo sa kontrata ng Tadeco at ng BuCor kasi nandun ‘yung problema ng bayan, ninanakawan ‘yung bayan ng bilyon-bilyon bawat taon. ‘Yun ay kailangan nating ayusin bilang mga opisyal ng gobyerno na pinagkatiwalaaan ng taumbayan, inihalal, at dapat po maging tapat tayo sa tungkulin natin,” he added.
(Let’s go back to the contract of TADECO and BuCor because it’s there where the country’s problem lies, billions are being stolen from the country every year. That’s what we need to fix as government officials who are trusted by the people, voted by them, and we need to be truthful in our obligations.)
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.
“’Yung ibang bagay, saka natin pag-usapan…pag-usapan natin sa parlor, sasagutin ko ‘yan doon pero dito, tingnan natin yung kontrata, talo ba yung gobyerno o hindi? Meron bang iregularidad sa kontrata na ‘to o wala? Magkano ang nananakaw sa gobyerno? ‘Yun ang kailangan nating tingnan dito,” Alvarez said.
(The other things, we can talk about that later… talk about it in the parlor, I’ll answer it there but here, let’s look at the contract, is the government losing or not? Are there irregularities in the contract or not? How much was stolen from the government? That’s what we need to look at here.)
Alvarez said that Floirendo is a friend but it doesn’t give the latter a license to steal from the public and won’t stop him from confronting and interfering on the matter.
If they were to talk, Alvarez said that he would like the talk to be in public for transparency.
“Hindi naman kailangan na mag-usap, magpaliwanag… Huwag sa akin, dahil wala naman akong interes sa kontrata na ‘yan. Dapat magpaliwanag sa taumbayan dahil ang taumbayan ang areglado sa kontrata na ‘yan at hindi ako,” the Speaker said.
(There’s no need to talk and explain… Not to me because I don’t have any interest in the contract. He needs to explain to the public.)
“Ako ay nilabas ko lang ‘yung kontrata na ‘yan at para makita ng sambayanan kung paano inaagrabyado ang gobyerno,” he added.
(I just exposed the contract so that everyone can see how the government is being taken advantage of.)
When asked why he only filed a case now, Alvarez said that he only got the copy of the said contract after writing to Department of Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre two months ago.
He said that Congress before tried to investigate the issue, but were not able to bring out a copy of the contract.
“’Yung kontrata na ‘yan, matagal ko na pong itinago ‘yan. Kahit po noong nakaraang Congress, sumubok po silang imbestigahan ‘yan ngunit hindi nila nailabas ‘yung kontratang ‘yan. Ngayon lang po, sa ilalim ng administrasyon ng ating Pangulo kung saan transparent ang leadership kaya tayo nakakuha ng kontrata…kopya ng kontrata,” he said.
(That contract was hidden for a long time. Even in the last Congress, they tried to investigate it but they didn’t reveal that contract. Just now, in the administration of our President where leadership is transparent, we just got a copy of the contract.) JE/rga
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