Even after House coup, Alvarez wants to be Speaker again

Mara Cepeda

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Even after House coup, Alvarez wants to be Speaker again
Reelected Davao del Norte congressman Pantaleon Alvarez also offers to make peace with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who helped oust him as Speaker in 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Reelected Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez wants another shot at the speakership.

The ousted leader of the House of Representatives confirmed this to Rappler on Sunday, May 19. 

“Yes, I will give it a try,” said Alvarez in a text message. 

Alvarez, the secretary-general of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, became House Speaker after his friend Rodrigo Duterte won the presidential election in 2016.

He had been a loyal lieutenant for Duterte in the House, pushing for the passage of Duterte’s controversial pet bills like the reimposition of the death penalty.  

But on July 23, 2018, Alvarez was unseated after lawmakers staged a coup against him and replaced him with former president turned Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. (READ: The women behind the fall of Alvarez

Alvarez made an enemy of the President’s daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who helped unseat him along with Arroyo and her longtime allies in the House, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, Alvarez’s friend turned fierce rival Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr, and the latter’s cousin, Davao del Norte Governor Anthony del Rosario.

Fast forward to May 2019, when Alvarez managed to defeat Del Rosario by a wide margin to secure a second term in Congress. (READ: Alvarez wins, Floirendo-Del Rosario rule ends in Davao del Norte)

Now, the returning Davao del Norte congressman is offering to make peace with Sara Duterte as he aims to vie for the speakership in the 18th Congress.

“Now that elections are over, I offer my hand in peace to heal our deep and divisive wounds…. Let us rally together for the cause of unity and progress in our Davao Region and our beloved country. Let us consolidate our efforts in making true change and uplift the lives of our countrymen,” said Alvarez in a statement after his proclamation. 

Battle among Duterte allies

Alvarez’s quest for the speakership, however, will not be easy. He will likely go against 3 other Duterte allies for the top post in the 18th Congress. 

There’s Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco, a family friend of the President and one of the administration allies in the House. The President and Sara Duterte both previously promoted Velasco’s bid for the speakership. 

Months later, Sara Duterte said incoming Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez “will be the next Speaker.”

A 3rd Duterte ally is gunning for the speakership: former foreign secretary and incoming Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano, who was the President’s running mate in the 2016 elections. 

Floirendo had wanted to become Speaker as well, but this is a battle he will no longer face after losing his reelection bid in Davao del Norte’s 2nd District. – Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.