With Duterte's backing, Alvarez will remain Speaker – lawmakers
MANILA, Philippines – Administration-allied lawmakers said support for Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez will remain strong as long as President Rodrigo Duterte trusts him.
Several lawmakers made the statement as the Speaker finds himself embroiled in a controversy with his longtime friend and Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr following reports their respective girlfriends got into a fight last year.
Alvarez filed a graft complaint against Floirendo and a House resolution calling for a probe into the allegedly anomalous joint venture agreement between the Bureau of Corrections and the Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation owned by Floirendo.
According to Surigao del Norte 2nd District Representative Robert Ace Barbers, the spat between the two Davaoeño lawmakers should not be used to question Alvarez's speakership.
"Unang-una, itong Speaker ng House ay dapat ay may tiwala at merong kumpiyansa ng ating Pangulo. Sa pagkakataong ito, hindi ko naman nakikita na nababawasan ang tiwala at kumpiyansa ng ating Pangulo kay Speaker," said Barbers in a press conference.
(First of all, the Speaker of the House should have the trust and confidence of our President. At this point in time, I don't see the President's trust and confidence in the Speaker waning.)
AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe, who is the president of the 47-member party-list coalition in the House, also shared the same sentiments.
"[I] am not worried at all since it is a private tiff and has nothing to do with the work in Congress. The support for Speaker Alvarez is still strong and I do not see any change in the House leadership in the near future," he said.
Navotas Representative Toby Tiangco, an independent lawmaker, agreed with his colleagues.
"It's all a numbers game, as long as he is Speaker, an ethics case will not prosper. As you have seen, our rules will be interpreted the way the majority wants it interpreted. In reality, only one vote is needed to be Speaker, and that is the President's vote," said Tiangco.
"Whoever the President wants to be Speaker will be Speaker. As long as the President wants him as Speaker, he will remain as Speaker," Tiangco added.
At least 267 legislators are allied with Duterte's Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), whose secretary-general is Alvarez.
Alvarez already admitted to having a girlfriend and also shrugged off potential disbarment. (READ: Alvarez defends affair: 'Sino ba'ng walang girlfriend?')
The Speaker told reporters last week: "Eh Diyos ko naman! Kayo naman eh. Sino ba'ng walang girlfriend?" (Oh my God! Come on. Who does not have a girlfriend?)
No less than the President himself defended womanizing after Alvarez received flak for publicly admitting to having an extramarital affair and having "many" children out of wedlock. Alvarez and Duterte are longtime friends and political allies.
"Pati si Speaker, bakit matanong – lahat kami wala nang ranggo 'pagka gano'n," said Duterte in a press conference in Cagayan de Oro City. (Even the Speaker, why would he be asked… all of us would lose our ranks if that's the case.)
"Sino ba'ng walang kaligayahan?" added the President. (Who doesn't have happiness?) – Rappler.com