MANILA, Philippines – Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez filed a graft complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr stemming from an alleged anomalous deal between the government and the latter’s company.
Alvarez made public his complaint against Floirendo on the same day that he filed House Resolution (HR) Number 867, seeking a congressional inquiry into the joint venture agreement (JVA) between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and Floirendo’s Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco).
In Alvarez’s complaint-affidavit submitted to the Ombudsman on March 13, a copy of which was given to Rappler by Alvarez, the Speaker accused his fellow Davao lawmaker of graft for having an unlawful “business interest” while serving as an elected official.
Alvarez, Davao del Norte 1st District representative, and Floirendo, are both allies of President Rodrigo Duterte. Alvarez is the secretary-general of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), while Floirendo was Duterte’s top campaign financier. (READ: Who’s who in Duterte’s poll contributor list)
The complaint stemmed from the agreement between BuCor and Tadeco, involving the lease of part of the Davao Penal Colony to Tadeco, utilized as a banana plantation.
In HR 867 filed on Tuesday, March 28, Alvarez sought an investigation into whether the BuCor is getting its fair share of Tadeco’s profits. Based on his computation, the government is reportedly “prejudiced” by as much as P106,167,191 per year.
In the graft complaint, Alvarez alleged that Floirendo violated Section 3(h) of Republic Act No. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which defines as a corrupt act “directly or indirectly having financing 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.”
“From its very inception, Tadeco has been wholly owned by (Floirendo) and his family,” Alvarez said in the complaint.
The Speaker noted that when the agreement between Tadeco and BuCor was renewed in 2003, extending the agreement for another 25 years, Floirendo was serving his 2nd term as Davao del Norte 2nd District representative.
“There was absolutely no evidence that when the JVA was renewed in 2003, [Floirendo] divested himself of his ownership of his shares of stock in Tadeco and ANFLOCOR,” Alvarez said.
The original contract was inked in 1969.
ANFLOCOR or Anflo Management and Investment Corporation is the mother company set up by the Floirendos in 1977 that oversees various businesses, including Tadeco.
“Based on all available data from the SEC, from 1997 to 2015, [Floirendo] not only owned substantial shares of stock in ANFLOCOR but he was always a member of the latter’s Board,” Alvarez said in his complaint.
Alvarez also cites Section 14, Article VI of the Constitution which bars senators or congressmen from having direct or indirect business interests “in any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the Government, or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof, including any government-owned or controlled corporation, or its subsidiary, during his term of office.”
Alvarez filed the complaint and HR 867 amid rumors that Floirendo was leading a plot to unseat Alvarez as speaker and replace him with Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, another Duterte ally.
Alvarez ousted Arroyo as deputy speaker after the latter voted against the controversial death penalty bill. – with a report from Mara Cepeda / Rappler.com