Floirendo says zero-infra budget more of ‘political vendetta’
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’ nemesis, Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr., has broken his silence on the zero infrastructure funding his district received for 2018, saying his former friend’s leadership of the House had become a “liability” under the Duterte administration.
“I am not an opposition. This is more of a political vendetta,” Floirendo said in a statement issued on Thursday.
Floirendo is one of 24 House members who ended up with zero or vastly reduced infrastructure funds after last-minute changes made during bicameral discussions on the P3.767-trillion budget signed by the President on Tuesday.
“The zero-budget given to my district at the instance of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez reflects the shady intention of the House leadership and speaks clearly of how he has looked down on the people of Davao del Norte, treating them as sacrificial lambs in his ultimate goal to bring me down,” he said.
“This kind of leadership is not only a great disservice to the electorate who voted him into position; it has also become a liability in the Duterte administration, whose main agenda is on pro-people initiatives,” he said.
Most of the 24 are members of House opposition factions, but a handful of administration allies, including Floirendo and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, were believed to have been deprived of their funding for political reasons.
Floirendo is one of the biggest contributors to President Duterte’s presidential campaign last year. He later had a falling-out with Alvarez over personal relationships and politics.
In the statement, Floirendo, owner of the banana firm Tagum Agricultural Development Corp. (Tadeco), said Alvarez’ action showed that “he is more than willing to forgo the welfare of the people of Davao del Norte just so he could hit back at me.”
“Though this is a big setback in my pledge to bring home more projects, Alvarez’s actions will not hinder me from delivering what I had promised,” Floirendo said.
“Surely, there are other sources of funds for well-meant projects and I am sure that there are people in the government who firmly believe that bringing public services to the people cannot be taken hostage by callous politicians,” he said.
In March, Alvarez charged Floirendo with graft and sought a congressional investigation questioning the legality of the agreement between the Bureau of Corrections and Tadeco, which allowed the latter to lease public land for 25 years for its banana plantation.
The rift between the two men led to embarrassing revelations of extramarital affairs on both sides after news reports suggested that they had a falling-out when their mistresses figured in a public altercation late last year.
The fight was aggravated by rumors that Floirendo was plotting to oust Alvarez and install former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the speakership, which they both denied.