Malacau00f1ang file photo
MANILA, Philippines – Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio "Tonyboy" Floirendo Jr slammed House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for supposedly using the 2018 budget to pursue a "political vendetta" by allocating a zero budget for his district's projects.
Alvarez, a fellow Mindanaoan lawmaker, had chosen to make "sacrificial lambs" out of the people of Davao del Norte 2nd district just to take it out on him, Floirendo said in a statement sent to media on Thursday, December 21.
"The zero-budget given to my district at the instance of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez reflects the shady intention of the House leadership and speaks clearly of how he has looked down on the people of Davao del Norte, treating them as sacrificial lambs in his ultimate goal to bring me down," said Floirendo.
Stating he is not even part of the opposition in the lower chamber, Floirendo added, "This is more of a political vendetta."
An ally of President Rodrigo Duterte's, just like Alvarez, Floirendo criticized the Speaker's brand of leadership.
"This kind of leadership is not only a great disservice to the electorate who voted him into position, it has also become a liability in the Duterte administration, whose main agenda is on pro-people initiatives," he said.
While he admitted the zero-budget allocation is a "big setback" in his bid to deliver more projects for the people of his district, Floirendo said it will not stop him from fulfilling his promises.
He expressed confidence that he would be able to find other sources of funds.
"I am sure that there are people in government who firmly believe that bringing public services to the people cannot be taken hostage by callous politicians," said Floirendo.
Floirendo was among the lawmakers who got zero-budget allocations for projects or major budget cuts in the 2018 General Appropriations Act, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday, December 19.
Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman said the move was done in the bicameral conference with the Senate, "reportedly upon instructions of Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez."
Many of the lawmakers who must now deal with zero or signficantly reduced budgets are those critical of the administration.
Floirendo, while an ally of Duterte and even the biggest financier of his 2016 presidential campaign, is embroiled in a quarrel with Alvarez.
Alvarez filed a graft complaint against Floriendo with the Office of the Ombudsman in March over an alleged anomalous deal between Floirendo's company and the government.
The Speaker alleged that Floirendo's Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) was shortchanging the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), with which it has a joint venture agreement, by more than P100 million a year.
Alvarez accused his fellow Davao lawmaker of graft for having an unlawful "business interest" while serving as an elected official.
The Speaker filed the graft complaint amid rumors that Floirendo was leading a plot to unseat him as speaker and replace him with Pampanga 2nd District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, another Duterte ally.
In October, Floriendo was also expelled from Duterte's political party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), of which Alvarez is secretary-general.
Prior to his expulsion, Floirendo got into a very public word war with Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez reportedly sparked by a spat between their girlfriends. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.