Duterte’s birthday wish for Alvarez: ‘I hope you’re married for the last time’

Mara Cepeda
Duterte’s birthday wish for Alvarez: ‘I hope you’re married for the last time’
President Rodrigo Duterte expresses his wish for Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez at the 60th birthday bash of his good friend and ally

President Rodrigo Duterte poked fun at the relationship status of longtime friend and political ally Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, who celebrated his 60th birthday on Friday, January 12. 

Duterte delivered a speech in honor of the Davao del Norte 1st District representative during his birthday celebration held in Tagum, Alvarez’s hometown. 

The President first said he valued Alvarez’s hard work and commitment as a politician and thanked him for being his “friend and ally.” But he soon cracked a joke about the Speaker’s first two marriages.

“I wish you the best in your future endeavors. Here is another fulfilling year of good health, happiness, and success. Mr Speaker, I hope that you are married for the last time,” said Duterte, causing laughter among the crowd filled with administration allies 

Alvarez is currently in a relationship with Jennifer Maliwanag. He has long been separated from his second wife, Emelita, with whom he has 4 children. He has two more children from a first marriage. 

Duterte and Alvarez, who were both part of the 11th Congress, are alike in many ways. Both are from Mindanao, stalwarts of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), and self-confessed ladies’ men. 

The President had even defended Alvarez when he was criticized for admitting he had a girlfriend despite still being married. (READ: Alvarez defends affair: ‘Sino ba’ng walang girlfriend?’)

A fight between the Speaker’s girlfriend and that of Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo led to the bitter political feud of the former friends. (READ: Davao del Norte district budget cut is Alvarez’s ‘political vendetta’ – Floirendo)

The President opened his usual rambling speech at Alvarez’s birthday bash with a mini-tribute to the Speaker as among the people who had repeatedly convinced him to run for president. – Rappler.com

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.