Cash, plane tickets, curved TVs raffled off in lawmakers’ party

Mara Cepeda
Cash, plane tickets, curved TVs raffled off in lawmakers’ party
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez denies pledging P1 million for the congressmen's raffle, saying he does not have the money to do so

Lavish prizes were raffled off during the Christmas party for congressmen held at the House of Representatives on Wednesday night, December 14, the same day the 17th Congress closed session for the year.

A source who had attended the party said that trips to the exclusive Balesin Island Club resort in Quezon as well as Korea, and Hong Kong were among the prizes given to lawmakers. Plane tickets for two to Europe were the grand prize. 

Around 15 curved high-definition Samsung television sets were also raffled off.

“These were the prizes that were there. They were collected and solicited from congressmen,” said the source. 

But on the day of the party, at least 4 lawmakers decided to pledge money for the raffle. The source said Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez supposedly promised to give P500,000, P250,000 from Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and P249,000 from Minority Leader Danilo Suarez.

The source said Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr also decided to pledge P1 million for the raffle. 

Madaling malasing si Tonyboy. Madaling maudyok. Sabi niya [nung party], ‘Okay, magbigay ako ng P1 million,’” said the source.

 (Tonyboy gets drunk quickly. He’s easily persuaded. He said during the party, “Okay, I’ll give P1 million.”)

Independent minority lawmaker and Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman confirmed this, saying, “The P1 million which Congressman Tonyboy Floirendo donated was broken down to one P500,000, and 10 P50,000 for a total of P1 million.” 

According to the source, Alvarez allegedly pledged another P500,000 after hearing Floirendo’s promise of raffling off P100,000.  

“These are all pledges. Kung sino manalo, ipapadala mo na lang ‘yun dun. ‘Di nga naglabas ng pera during the party, pero nag-promise (Whoever wins, you’ll just send the prize to that person. They may not have actually shelled out money during the party, but they promised to give the money),” said the source.

The source also claims this was the first time congressmen held a lavish raffle during their Christmas party.

First time na ganyan. ‘Yung pinakamalaking premyo siguro dati ay ref. ‘Di nagso-solicit noon,” said the source.

(This was the first time it was done like this. The biggest prize before was perhaps a refrigerator. No solicitations before.)

Confessions and denials 

Lagman admitted to winning P250,000 himself during the raffle.

“With respect to the prize which I won, it’s P250,000. And this is part of the prize given by the Speaker; it did not come from the prize donated by Congressman Floirendo,” said Lagman. 

Suarez confirmed in a phone interview with Rappler that he had indeed pledged P249,000 for the congressmen’s raffle.

“That’s correct. There was one winner,” he said.

Suarez, however, refused to comment on the other pledges, saying: “Huwag niyo na lang lagyan ng issue kasi Christmas naman (Don’t make an issue out of this since it’s Christmas anyway).” 

Alvarez, meanwhile, denied giving P1 million during the party.

“No. I went home early and I don’t have the money,” said the Speaker in a text message to Rappler.

Alvarez maintained he has no idea whether Floirendo pledged P1 million as well because he left when the major prizes were being raffled during the party. 

Floirendo denied giving P1 million for the raffle as well. “That was a gift for the Speaker… That’s not true … You are making up a story,” Floirendo told the Inquirer.

Rappler also sought Fariñas for comment, but he has not replied as of posting. – 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.