Next Speaker? Pantaleon Alvarez and the ghost of NAIA 3

NEXT SPEAKER? The PDP-Laban-endorsed Davao del Norte First District Representative Pantaleon 'Bebot' Alvarez was implicated in a plunder case involving NAIA 3 deals. File photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

NEXT SPEAKER? The PDP-Laban-endorsed Davao del Norte First District Representative Pantaleon 'Bebot' Alvarez was implicated in a plunder case involving NAIA 3 deals.

File photo by Manman Dejeto/Rappler

More than a month before the 16th Congress wraps up and president-elect Rodrigo Duterte is sworn into office, his party is already eyeing the top spot in the House of Representatives.

Newly-elected Davao del Norte First District Representative Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez confirmed to Rappler on Wednesday, May 11, that PDP-Laban is endorsing him as Speaker in the 17th Congress.

He also said he accepted the endorsement so he could “very well support the new president for his program of government.” (READ: PDP-Laban endorses Bebot Alvarez as House speaker

The secretary-general of Duterte’s party is no stranger to government. He already represented Davao del Norte in Congress for one term, from 1998 to 2001, and was also the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) secretary under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

But his involvement with the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) put him under the spotlight.

According to a Newsbreak piece published in 2007, Alvarez was implicated in wrongdoing for awarding the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract to Philippine International Air Terminals Co Inc (Piatco) when he was MIAA senior assistant general manager.

A plunder case was filed against him and other officials in 2001 by the MIAA-NAIA Association of Service Contractors (MASO) after he was alleged to have gained something from the contract. According to a 2001 Newsbreak story, Alvarez's wife Emelita owned 33% of Wintrack Builders Inc, a company that supposedly profited from an excess of P76.49 million ($1.64 million) from excavation work it did with Piatco.

In addition, MASO alleged that no public bidding took place.

The Office of the Ombudsman dismissed the case due to “lack of evidence” on March 19, 2001. It added that the deal with Piatco was “proper and valid” based on the probes done by the House of Representatives. 

The case was just one of the many problems Manila’s largest air terminal faced before becoming fully operational.

Will Alvarez’ new term – and possible speakership position – be trouble-free? – Jodesz Gavilan/Rappler.com