House members rally behind Alvarez after ratings drop

Bea Cupin

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House members rally behind Alvarez after ratings drop
'Sometimes that is the natural consequence of exercising your political will and expressing candid political sentiments,' says one ally of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez

MANILA, Philippines– After the trust and satisfaction ratings of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez plunged to new lows, his allies in the House of Representatives expressed confidence that his numbers would rise once the public is properly apprised of his pro-poor measures.

In a statement, key House members on Saturday, October 14, extolled Alvarez’ “competent leadership,” citing the passage of the Magna Carta of the Poor and the universal health law, among others.

Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia said Alvarez shows “strong leadership” when he voted against the adoption of the justice committee report which junked the impeachment complaint against Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista.

According to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, Alvarez’s net satisfaction rating plummeted to a “personal low” of +8 in September 2017, down from +16 in June 2017 – a downgraded rating from “moderate” to “neutral.”

A Pulse Asia survey released a day later showed only 3 in 10 Filipinos trusted and approved of the congressman from Davao del Norte.

Another key House leader, Surigao del Norte 2nd District Representative Robert Barbers, said Alvarez’ aim was not to be popular “but to deliver what is good and just.” Barbers is chairman of the House dangerous drugs committee.

“Sometimes that is the natural consequence of exercising your political will and expressing candid political sentiments,” said Quezon City 2nd District Representative Winston Castelo, who believed that the big ratings drop was  an “offshoot” of the House decision to cut the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)’s 2018 budget to a mere P1,000.

The House eventually relented and “restored” the commission’s budget, albeit cut by over P100 million.

Isabela 1st District Representative Rodito Albano insisted that surveys “do not reflect everything the House has done under the able leadership of Speaker Alvarez.” Albano is a member of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA), which is made up of members of the chambers of Congress.

Davao Oriental 2nd District Representative Joel Almaro, a CA member as well, defended the CHR vote.

“It was Speaker Alvarez’s right to voice out his disenchantment over the performance of the CHR. As the Speaker explained, if there are victims of other human rights violations, the CHR does not speak up and it does not have programs for these victims. But when it comes to the rights of criminals, the CHR is rather outspoken. The Speaker has the right to express his sentiments,” he said.

Oriental Mindoro 2nd District Representative Reynaldo Umali, justice committee chairman, had as much to say, according to the House press release. “While we are confident his ratings will rise again, we’ve seen that Speaker Alvarez is a leader who bases his decision on what is right and necessary, and not on what is popular. That is the mark of a true and strong leader,” he said.

Umali, as justice committee chairman, spearheads deliberations on impeachment complaints filed before the House. The committee voted to junk a complaint against Bautista but this was overturned by plenary.

They are currently tackling an impeachment complaint against Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. – 

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Bea Cupin

Bea is a senior multimedia reporter who covers national politics. She's been a journalist since 2011 and has written about Congress, the national police, and the Liberal Party for Rappler.