2022 Philippine Elections

After defending Marcos burial, Alvarez backs Robredo for EDSA

Rambo Talabong
After defending Marcos burial, Alvarez backs Robredo for EDSA

ENDORSEMENT. Pantaleon Alvarez endorses Leni Robredo.

Mara Cepeda/Rappler

'I want to continue what I was fighting for then,' says Pantaleon Alvarez

MANILA, Philippines – In explaining his endorsement for Vice President Leni Robredo, former Duterte ally and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez told his EDSA story.

“The first fight that I joined was in the 80s. I was in the Ateneo Law School and I remembered joining marches on the streets to end the Marcos dictatorship,” Alvarez said in a press briefing on Thursday, March 24.

Amid the rampant abuse of human rights then, he said he fought for Cory Aquino. Now he was fighting for another widowed woman politician – Leni Robredo.

“I want to continue what I was fighting for then [during EDSA],” Alvarez said, eliciting applause from the audience.

But what sounded romantic also sounded equally contradictory.

Before Alvarez abandoned the Panfilo Lacson ship for Leni Robredo, he was one of the staunchest supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, a strongman widely compared to the dictator Marcos.

Alvarez, in at least two instances, found himself on the same side as the surviving Marcoses under the Duterte government. First, he defended the Supreme Court decision to back the hero’s burial for Marcos.

“This cardinal principle of a democratic system is the basis of the Supreme Court ruling allowing the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. We should respect its decision as the final arbiter of all constitutional and legal issues,” Alvarez said then in a statement.

Then in 2018, he sponsored a bill that would place the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) under the Office of the Solicitor General, which is headed by Marcos loyalist Jose Calida.

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Outside of these, Alvarez has been slammed for supporting policies under Duterte that have been described as Marcos-like, including the anti-illegal drugs campaign that killed at least 7,000 drug suspects in police operations. He also red-tagged progressive lawmakers in 2017, saying that Makabayan lawmakers received funding from the New People’s Army, the armed group of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

He even considered impeaching his newfound standard-bearer Leni Robredo back in 2017, after Robredo criticized Duterte and his drug war.

Alvarez pulled away from Duterte after he was ousted from the Speakership, thanks mostly to Sara Duterte, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and Imee Marcos – women who are all with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr’s presidential campaign.

To prevent Marcos’ return to Malacañang, it appears that for Robredo, Alvarez’s sins can be forgiven.

“Speaker, you do not need to apologize,” Robredo said, referring to the impeachment threat then.

She added: “We don’t have any personal disagreement.” – Rappler.com

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.