Pantaleon Alvarez

What happened at the preliminary ethics hearing vs Pantaleon Alvarez?

Kaycee Valmonte

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What happened at the preliminary ethics hearing vs Pantaleon Alvarez?

LAWMAKER. Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez in 2023.

House press and public affairs bureau

Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez is the second lawmaker that the House ethics panel is investigating for alleged disorderly behavior

MANILA, Philippines – The House of Representatives’ committee on ethics and privileges concluded on Thursday, May 16, its preliminary hearing on the case filed against Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez and is set to begin formal hearings next week.

After an executive session which lasted over four hours, committee chair Coop-NATCCO Representative Felimon Espares, said they decided to only focus on the disorderly behavior allegations made against the former House speaker.

They will drop the complaint about Alvarez’s “habitual absences” because of the lack of evidence. This means that among the accusations filed by Tagum City Mayor Rey Uy, only the congressman’s alleged remarks made against fellow Davao del Norte public officials and his apparent statements during rallies – which may constitute as disorderly behavior – will be investigated by the committee.

What happened at the preliminary ethics hearing vs Pantaleon Alvarez?

Alvarez is the second lawmaker that the House ethics panel is investigating. In August 2023, the lower chamber expelled Negros Oriental 3rd District Representative Arnolfo “Arnie” Teves Jr. for disorderly behavior and violation of code of conduct.

Here’s a wrap on what happened at the preliminary proceedings:

Complainant claims Alvarez did not apologize

Uy said that Alvarez did not apologize for his statements, which offended local officials and even some of his colleagues at the lower chamber. When asked if Uy wanted to hear Alvarez apologize, the mayor said this will no longer hold weight.

“The damage has been done… madaling magsabi ng I’m sorry (it’s easy to apologize)… but next time, be careful with what you are going to say,” Uy told reporters during a break in the session.

The ethics panel did not specify which of Alvarez’s statements would be investigated. In a media briefing shortly after the hearing concluded, Espares said Alvarez invoked as a defense his right to “freedom of speech.” The rest of his defense were not disclosed as it was considered “classified material.”

Neither Alvarez nor any of his representatives faced the media on Thursday.

Tagum mayor wants Alvarez expelled

When asked what he expected from the proceedings, Uy said he wanted Alvarez to be expelled from the lower chamber. If this happens, Alvarez would be the second congressman kicked out of the House, the same fate suffered by Teves a year ago.

“That’s too much,” Uy said of Alvarez’ statements. “Huwag natin gagawin [na] ‘yung freedom of speech, maski ano nalang sinasabi natin sa kapwa nating mga official.”

(Let’s not hide behind the ‘freedom of speech,’ that we can say just anything about our fellow public officials.)

What happened at the preliminary ethics hearing vs Pantaleon Alvarez?

It is important to note that the committee can only recommend penalties. The final decision to impose penalties rests on the House plenary . For example, if the committee ends up recommending to suspend Alvarez for 60 days, all current lawmakers will have to vote on this during plenary session.

No evidence for alleged negligence of duties

The committee said it decided to drop other complaints against Alvarez because the complainants’ only presented statements of a fellow lawmaker who called on Alvarez to show up at House sessions.

While Espares did not name the congressman, La Union 1st District Representative Paolo Ortega in April said in a statement that House members “have not seen him (Alvarez) for quite some time” and urged the former House speaker to join discussions during committee hearings and plenary sessions.

Alvarez, however, presented a letter from the secretary general allowing him to work from his home district.

Hindi naman lahat ng trabaho ng isang representative is nandito ‘yung presence all the time,” Espares said in a media briefing shortly after the executive session adjourned.

(The work of a representative does not require his presence at Batasan all the time.)

Kung may request naman tsaka napakita naman dun sa document evidence na nandoon siya during mga relief operation… naging basis din natin.”

(If he has a request and he was able to show it through documentary evidence that he was there during relief operations… then that also became part of our bases to dismiss the claim.)

Investigation on disorderly conduct

The rest of the probe will focus on the offense of “disorderly conduct,” specifically on the allegation that Alvarez said libelous statements against fellow public officials from Davao del Norte, and seditious remarks when he called on the military and police forces to withdraw their support for the government.

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The committee said it did not have power to investigate legal matters, especially because these allegations touched on possible criminal offenses.

“What we’re looking at here is if after those statements, it reflects the disorderly behavior of our members, which is more on the administrative [aspect],” Espares said in mixed English and Filipino.

First official hearing slated for next week

With the preliminary hearing done, the panel is now waiting for more evidence to be presented by the complainants.

House of Representatives, House Committee on Ethics and Privileges
ETHICS PANEL. The House of Representatives’ committee on ethics and privileges concluded on Thursday, May 16, its preliminary hearing on the complaint filed against Davao del Norte 1st District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez.

The first formal hearing on the case begins next week, although the committee said the investigation can stretch beyond if needed. This is the last week of sessions before Congress goes on break.

“We’d like to give ample time to the complainant for all of the evidence that they could be able to present to us,” Manila 6th District Representative Bienvenido Abante said. – Rappler.com

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