Alvarez faces twin charges
Solons mull over ethics, disbarment cases
SOME administration lawmakers are considering filing an ethics complaint and a disbarment case against Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez after he admitted that he has a mistress, in what could be the opening salvo in a campaign to remove him as the leader of the House of Representatives.
“We cannot allow a double standard here,” one of the congressmen who requested anonymity said. “The House itself filed an ethics complaint and disbarment case against Senator [Leila] de Lima due to immorality. Having a mistress that seems to get protection from the Speaker is no different than the accusation that De Lima also tried to protect her alleged lover Ronnie Dayan by advising him not to show up in the House hearing or he will be in trouble.”
Alvarez was defiant and unapologetic.
“Bring it on,” he said of the impending cases. “I did not seek this position.”
“If someone wants to disbar me for having a girlfriend, go ahead and file a complaint. Maybe there will be no lawyers left,” Alvarez, a lawyer, said.
“My God, you people. Who doesn’t have a girlfriend,” Alvarez told House reporters when asked to confirm that he was having an affair with Jennifer Maliwanag Vicencio.
The Supreme Court disbars lawyers who have extra-marital affairs, particularly those who are in government service.
Talk of an ouster plot gained traction after Alvarez unleashed his powers against his erstwhile friend and fellow Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr., whose girlfriend Cathy Biñag admitted that the relationship between the two lawmakers soured after she had a spat with Alvarez’s girlfriend, Vicencio that “spiraled out of control and one thing led to another.”
The lawmakers were smarting from his order to have the Congressional Spouses Foundation Inc., an organization of the spouses of legislators headed by the Speaker’s wife, Emelita, removed from the House premises, purportedly upon Vicencio’s instigation.
Mrs. Alvarez and the spouses tried to reason with the Speaker but to no avail.
Alvarez said he had been estranged from his wife, Emelita for a long time, and said his children knew about Vicencio.
Alvarez also denied Floirendo’s claim that he had backed Alvarez’s bid to become Speaker.
Alvarez has filed graft charges against Floirendo before the Office of the Ombudsman, accusing him of unduly benefiting from an anomalous contract between his banana company and the Bureau of Corrections.
Alvarez also sought a congressional investigation into Floirendo’s alleged anomalous banana plantation inside the Davao Penal Colony, where the prisoners were tapped as farm workers.
Alvarez said Floirendo should not use his money and wealth to divert public attention from the real issue―his anomalous deal with BuCor.
“Let us look at the contract. What I am after here is to give justice to the people who got shortchanged because of the sweetheart deal,” Alvarez said.
Floirendo’s girlfriend confirmed that there was indeed a falling out between the two former close buddies and that it started with her and Alvarez’s girlfriend.
Alvarez on Thursday said the House would give priority to the congressional probe of Floirendo’s land deal with the government.
Alvarez said he directed the House committee on good government, chaired by Surigao del Norte Rep. Johnny Pimentel, to look into the alleged questionable joint venture agreement between Bureau of Corrections and Floirendo’s Tagum Agricultural Development Corp.
Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque, member of the minorty bloc, appealed to Alvarez and Floirendo “to set aside their differences and support the President at a time when latter’s enemies want to destabilize him.”
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, for his part, lamented that the rift between Alvarez and Floirendo supposedly stemmed from an altercation between the two lawmakers’ girlfriends.
“Fights like that could lead to [the PDP-Laban] breakup,” Alejano said, adding that the Magdalo party-list group would take advantage of the breakup to get the support from their colleagues for the impeachment complaint he filed against the President.