Despite the defense of Senate President Koko Pimentel, regional leaders of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) are standing pat on their accusation that House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is ‘guilty of acts inimical to the party.’
Pimentel, PDP-Laban president, has defended Alvarez following claim by two regional leaders of the party that they have passed a resolution declaring the Speaker, the PDP secretary general as ‘persona non grata’ to the party.
The PDP-Laban has issued a resolution declaring Speaker Alvarez as ‘persona non grata’ for acts inimical to the party, earlier said Rogelio Garcia, former labor undersecretary and party chairman for Region 12, and Cesar Cuntapay, interim president of Southern Mindanao regional council.
The statements of Garcia and Cuntapay were quoted in media reports following reported complaints of PDP-Laban leaders that Alvarez is conducting an unauthorized nationwide reorganization of the PDP-Laban and recruitment of new members.
According to their complaints, the Alvarez recruitment paved the way for narco-politicians to infiltrate the PDP-Laban.
Pimentel described as “fake news” the claim of Garcia and Cuntapay that Alvarez has been declared as ‘persona non grata’ by the PDP-Laban.
Pimentel also threatened expulsion from the party of members disseminating “fake news” to undermine the leadership and unity of the PDP-Laban.
With Pimentel defending Alvarez, the regional party leaders will raise the issue to a higher level, given the seriousness of the accusation against the Speaker.
“We will bring up the case to the supreme court,” said in jest a party leader in Davao del Norte who is privy to the issue but begged that he not be named. By “supreme court” he was referring to President Rodrigo Duterte, titular head of the ruling PDP-Laban.
Alvarez represents the first congressional district of Davao de Norte where he is not wanting in critics and foes for initiating a congressional probe into the Joint Venture Agreeement (JVA) between the Tagum Agricultural Development Company (TADECO) and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor).
The JVA, covering more than 5,000 hectares of Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) reservation area developed into a banana plantation by Tadeco, according to Alvarez, was “illegal and disadvantageous” to the government.
Acknowledging the contribution of Tadeco and the Tadeco-BuCor land deal to the economy, the Davao del Norte provincial government and its municipalities have passed resolutions supporting the JVA.
Alvarez has also been criticized for the graft rap he filed at the Ombudsman against 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo, Jr.
Floiredo, whose family owns Tadeco, is a political ally and friend of Alvarez, and one of the biggest contributors to the campaign of President Duterte in the 2016 election.
In defending Alvarez, Pimentel cited the Speaker’s contribution to the party.
Alvarez, he said, “expanded the base of PDP. He cannot be said to have done or be doing acts inimical to the Party. Speaker Alvarez has in fact strengthened the Party with quality members,” said Pimentel.
But according to the PDP-Laban regional leaders, the massive recruitment of new party members by Alvarez has opened the floodgates for entry of narco-politicians into the party.
Alvarez is touring the country in a massive recruitment binge.
The accusation against Alvarez is serious, and insulting to President Duterte, in that the administration has an ongoing campaign against illegal drugs.
President Duterte has vowed to eradicate the illegal drugs trade that involves police, military and government officials.
Raising fear that the entry of narco-politicians into the administration party could undermine the President’s war on drugs, the PDP-Laban regional leaders said they are forced to raise the issue to President Duterte.
Benito Ranque, PDP-Laban deputy secretary general, said the party is monitoring reports that a number of narco-politicians were able to join the PDP-Laban through Alvarez’s recruitment.
The PDP-Laban will not be a “sanctuary” for narco-politicians, said Ranque, who vowed to continue to oppose Alvarez’s ongoing recruitment.
Some politicians want to become PDP-Laban members thinking they can get away from their misdeeds. But the party will not become their sanctuary, he said.
Cesar Cuntapay, PDP-Laban coordinating council chairman in Mindanao, also opposed the ongoing party reorganization conducted by Alvarez.
Cuntapay said Alvarez is creating instability in the party through his unauthorized recruitment of members and replacing old party members with new recruits.
According to Cuntapay, the reorganization that includes massive recruitment, was not consulted with the national leadership and violated PDP-Laban protocols.
Cuntapay said Alvarez swore in the new members without them going through a basic membership seminar, which is mandated by the PDP-Laban constitution and bylaws.