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BUTUAN CITY – The municipality of Dapa in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, has been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) for five days starting Monday.In an executive order issued over the weekend, Surigao del Norte Vice Gov. Eddie D. Gokiangkee Jr. said the MECQ was… Read More
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he has all the right to invest his money as he admitted owning beach properties in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte.
Alvarez, representing in Congress the 1st District of Davao del Norte, accused his province mate, former friend and political Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr, as behind media reports about his properties in the popular tourist island worth P500 million.
But the Speaker also denied that his properties are worth P500 million.
Alvarez challenged Floirendo to file a case against him.
If I violated the anti-corruption law, then they should file a case, Alvarez said.
Media reports also said that Alvarez did not include the Siargao properties in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN), which is a ground for filing of a graft case.
Floirendo, however, denied Alvarez’s accusations. He said he found out about the controversy surrounding the Speaker’s properties in Siargao only after reading the media reports.
“Why am I being dragged yet again by the Speaker into his alleged purchases? I have nothing to do with it,” said Floirendo.
“Besides, the issue does not have anything to do with me. I am not the issue here. It is he who should explain instead of pointing fingers at me or other people,” he added.
Why should Alvarez panic? Said Floirendo who adds that the Speaker should instead run after media behind the reports about his Siargao wealth.
But he adds that media has the right to tell about wrongdoings of government officials.
Alvarez and Floirendo are former political allies but their longtime friendship snapped after their respective girlfriends quarreled in public during the Masskara Festival in Bacolod City.
Following the spat and reports that Floirendo was behind a plot to oust him as Speaker to be replaced by former President now Pampanga representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Alvarez filed a resolution in Congress seeking an inquiry into the legality of a land deal between the Bureau of Prisons (BuCor) and the Floirendo-owned Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco).
Alvarez also filed a graft case against Floirendo in connection with the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) involving about 5000 hectares of the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) reservation area.
Alvarez later would also scratch off development funds for Floirendo’s district from the 2018 General Appropriations Act.
Davao del Norte Representative Antonio Floirendo Jr. wondered why House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is in panic mode following media reports he owns P500 million worth of properties in Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte.
The political climate in Davao del Norte is hot as hell for the Speaker
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez is no longer seeking reelection as Davao del Norte’s First District representative.
He has transferred residence to Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte to take a crack at Congress representing the province in the 2019 mid-term elections.
These speculations are swirling following reports that Alvarez may flee to Surigao del Norte to continue his political career as his reelection in Davao del Norte faces an impending doom.
Is Speaker Alvarez now a Surigaonon?
A candidate under the law must comply with at least a year of residency before he can run for public office in a political district. The mid-term election is to be held in mid-May of 2019, or less than a year away.
So if Alvarez has not transferred residence and voter’s record at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to comply with the residency requirement, he is stuck with Davao del Norte, where practically all of political forces and personalities are ganging up on him to frustrate his reelection bid.
Alvarez now calls Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte’s famous tourist island, his family’s home. Residents say Alvarez is a frequent visitor of Siargao Island.
He shows up in public events actively supporting the island’s promotion.
Alvarez may have switched political priorities.
He assures huge funds for infrastructure and economic development of Siargao.
In the First District of Davao del Norte, Alvarez runs his early reelection campaign with promises of millions of pesos in funds for all the barangays ….if he wins, distribution of cheap manual Jetmatic water pumps and low-power electricity generators, a few hundred meters of road gravelling and credit-grabbing of public services and projects delivered by national government agencies like Tesda, DSWD and the Department of Health.
It appears that the Speaker loves Siargao more than his First District in Davao del Norte.
The Speaker and his associates have business interests in the country’s surfing capital, according to government records.
A report said Alvarez owns beach properties, including a high-end resort, worth more than P500 million in Siargao island.
Recently in the limelight was Alvarez’s chief of staff, Edwin Jubahib, whose posh disco joint in Gen. Luna town was subject of complaints of loud noises by neighbors.
Observers however see more than business interest in Alvarez being frequently seen in Siargao: He is considering the island as a political option, with his politics buffeted by stormy weather in Davao del Norte.
The political atmosphere in Davao del Norte is hot as hell for the Speaker.
Presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has called the Speaker as an “asshole” and a liability to the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte-Carpio says the country would be better off without Alvarez and has urged members of the House of Representatives to oust him as Speaker.
Worse, she has vowed to campaign against Alvarez’s reelection in 2019.
Reports have it that Duterte-Carpio is luring former Governor Rodolfo del Rosario, father of Governor Anthony del Rosario, to contest the reelection bid of the Speaker.
Duterte-Carpio went ballistic against Alvarez after the Speaker called as an “opposition party” the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP), a regional party she organized together with the five governors of the Davao Region.
Alvarez, who spiced up his claim with the intriguing remark that Duterte-Carpio formed the HnP without the approval of President Duterte, apparently was insulted by the presidential daughter’s move, being the secretary general of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino/Lakas ng Bayan (PDP/Laban), whose banner President Duterte carried in the race to the presidency in 2016.
Top local politicians in Davao del Norte also squirm at the mention of Alvarez’s name, and have banded to form a fatal brew that could sentence to death the Speaker’s political career.
Second District Representative Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr., who was expelled by Alvarez from the PDP/Laban last year, is friendly with Duterte-Carpio.
Floirendo has accused Alvarez of deleting budgets for his district in the annual budget. He has joined forces with his cousin, Governor del Rosario, who also accused the Speaker of slashing public works budget for the province.
Del Rosario has criticized the proposed P3 billion Tagum City flyover project, whose funding was claimed by Alvarez, that was not consulted with the provincial government and the Davao Regional Development Council, which the governor chairs.
Del Rosario also smells corruption in the project funded through a midnight insertion in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) of 2017, without knowledge of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The project was hurriedly started late last year even without a feasibility study and transport impact assessment study.
The lack of the vital documents has led the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and the Commission on Audit (CoA) to raise the red flag against the project that is being used by Alvarez as his flagship project in his media campaign for reelection.
Suspicion of corruption in the Tagum City flyover project brings back the issue of Alvarez’s alleged link to the Piatco scandal, involving an anomalous award of a multi-million-peso project at the Manila international airport, when he was the transport secretary of the Arroyo administration.
Alvarez has also cultivated a phalanx of critics from the local government units, the labor sector, the Church, women’s groups, the business community and others.
Some call him a “snake in the grass” for fighting Floirendo, his former friend and political ally and benefactor, following a public quarrel between their girlfriends.
Alvarez has stretched the warfront wider by dragging the Floirendo-owned Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco) into the conflict.
He instigated a House inquiry into the legality of a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the banana company and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) covering 5,000 hectares of the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) reservation area.
Tadeco converted the once marshland property of Dapecol into a banana plantation that provided jobs to thousands including Dapecol inmates hired as farm workers and earned taxes for the national government and the Davao del Norte local government, including share from produce for BuCor.
Pushing the rift farther, Alvarez filed a graft complaint against Floirendo in connection with the Tadeco-BuCor deal, despite the decades-old JVA having been reviewed and approved by Congress and the Office of the President.
Officials of municipalities and cities of the province who acknowledge the economic contribution of Tadeco, criticized Alvarez for his action and initiated resolutions supporting the Tadeco-BuCor JVA.
Even the local Catholic Church is reportedly massing its flock against the Speaker for his authorship of the Divorce Bill.
Separated from his legal wife, Alvarez has publicly said that he fathered seven children from three women out of wedlock, raising a ruckus in the women sector particularly the women’s rights group Gabriela.
Even his party mates in PDP/Laban are not comfortable with how Alvarez is running the party.
A group in the ruling party has declared Alvarez as “persona non grata” for violating party rules through his massive recruitment activities without the recruits subjected to orientation required by the party’s constitution and by-laws.
Alvarez is also accused of allowing entry of narco-politicians into the party, even as President Duterte’s primary program is the campaign against illegal drugs.
Alvarez in head-on collision with the President is not surprising. Power has gone to his head that he once bragged that he controls the House that has power to impeach the President.
He has no respect for President Duterte’s friends and political allies and filed a graft case against Floirendo, a major donor in the Duterte presidential campaign. He does not care if Floirendo helped him rise from his grave of previous political debacles by supporting his winning run for Congress in 2016. Alvarez does not care if Floirendo lobbied hard with President Duterte for him to be named as Speaker of the House.
The online news site Rappler, in a piece on Alvarez’s political future, asked this question:
“So if Davao del Norte is getting too crowded politically, is it time for Alvarez to look elsewhere and start planning for his future?” “Would it come as a surprise then if one day the island of Siargao suddenly became a province with its own governor and congressional representative?”
Alvarez had not warmed his seat as Speaker of the House at the start of the Duterte administration that talks swirled about a move he blamed on Floirendo to replace him as Speaker with former President now Pampanga governor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Floirendo vehemently denied the accusation but we are sure he would just be too happy to see Alvarez down.
Alvarez has created enemies not only in Davao del Norte, but also among his peers in the halls of Congress, that Floirendo need not lift a finger for the Speaker to be kicked out.
Talks of Alvarez’s ouster continues to this day. The axe could fall anytime to chop off the Speaker’s head.
So, the honorable Speaker needs a Plan B.
“Alvarez is considering running for congressman in Surigao del Norte due to a looming showdown in his current district, Davao del Norte,” reports the online site Politiko.
The site “has learned that Alvarez is planning to transfer his voter records as news swirl that Davao del Norte Reps. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr. and Anthony Del Rosario plan to join forces to ensure his defeat in 2019.”
“The Speaker may indicate his resort in Siargao Island as his place of residence to pave the way for his candidacy,” Politiko reports.
But is Alvarez welcome in Surigao del Norte?
Surigao del Norte is rabidly Matugas country.
A virus like Alvarez, defrocked if not discredited as Speaker and fleeing an impending debacle in his own bailiwick in Davao del Norte, would be dismissed outright as an unwanted inconsequential dot in the political landscape of Surigao del Norte by Governor Sol Matugas, Rep. Francisco Matugas II and Rep. Bingo Matugas
There will be no province of Siargao nor a congressional district in Surigao for Alvarez in the future.
In the meantime, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the fourth most powerful persona in the country today, will have to face his final political destiny of infamy in Davao del Norte in the 2019 mid-term elections.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has bought properties in Siargao worth P500 million, said the Davao City-based online news site Davao Breaking News in a report.
The report said that a check with the General Luna Municipal Assessor’s Office (MAO) records showed that there are seven properties in the name of Speaker Alvarez and two more under the name of a certain Anaclito Alvarez and another two under Carlito Alvarez.
In an interview by Davao-based reporter Funny Pearl Gajunera, Speaker Alvarez clarified that the Assessor’s Office records showing him buying at least 4 properties in Siargao in 2017 could have been due to the ongoing “general revision” at the said office thus the error.