P1 million for every speakership vote? Velasco, Alvarez deny bribing lawmakers

Mara Cepeda
P1 million for every speakership vote? Velasco, Alvarez deny bribing lawmakers
Pantaleon Alvarez, the ousted speaker who wants another shot at the post, claims other candidates for the speakership are handing out P500,000 to P1 million to buy votes

MANILA, Philippines – Two of the contenders for speaker of the House in the 18th Congress denied handing out millions of pesos to bribe lawmakers to vote for them.

Returning Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco and Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, the ousted speaker who wants another shot at the post, denied bribing their colleagues for the speakership race in separate television interviews.

It was Alvarez himself who first alleged on Monday, May 27, that P500,000 to P1 million is being dangled to every lawmaker. He implied that whoever is buying votes has the financial backing of certain “funders.”

“Purposely, hindi ako lumapit doon sa mga funders para mayroon akong ipamigay na P500,000, P1 million (Purposely, I didn’t approach the funders so that I would have P500,000, P1 million to give away),” Alvarez told ABS-CBN’s Headstart. 

There will be a total of 243 district lawmakers and 61 party-list representatives in the 18th Congress. If Alvarez is to be believed, this means a speakership candidate resorting to vote buying would have to shell out between P152 million and P304 million if he or she wants all the votes.

Alvarez refused to name who among the candidates for speaker is supposedly behind the alleged bribery. But he said he would not resort to buying votes, as doing so would taint the top post in the House. 

“Ayoko nang sabihin kung sino, ano? Pero ang problema kasi diyan, ‘pag gagawin natin ‘yan, we will be compromising the position of the speakership. Mahirap po ‘yan,” said Alvarez.

(I don’t want to say who it is, okay? But the problem here is that, if we do this, we will be compromising the position of the speakership. That’s difficult.)

In a separate interview on the same television show on Tuesday, May 28, Velasco also denied buying his way to the speakership. (READ: Lord Allan Velasco vows to be the ‘listening Speaker’ of the House

“No, I’m not giving away a million pesos. Then I’ll be waiting for P1 million for myself,” said Velasco, whose bid for the speakership is backed by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Velasco, however, believes his colleagues cannot “just be bought that easily.”

“True enough, congressmen, they won’t go for that type of wheeling and dealing just to be able to get the votes. Each congressman has his or her own views. So I mean, I don’t think each congressman can just be bought that easily,” said Velasco.

Aside from Velasco and Alvarez, there are 6 other names being floated in the speakership race:

  • Incoming Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez
  • Pampanga 3rd District Representative Aurelio Gonzales and Davao Oriental 2nd District Representative Joel Almario from the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan
  • Presidential son and incoming Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte
  • Former foreign secretary and incoming Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano
  • Outgoing senator and incoming Antique Representative Loren Legarda

– 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.