Opposition plans coup as Alvarez loses power base in House
His rift with a fellow member of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP) and his arm-twisting of members of the House of Representatives into passing without question and with threats the controversial Death Penalty Bill, are inflicting lethal blows that could lead to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez losing his post, a lawmaker said.
Alvarez is breaking up the Supermajority, said opposition lawmaker Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat. The Supermajority is the ruling coalition in the House composed of several political parties led by the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP), the party of President Rodrigo Duterte and Alvarez.
Baguilat also said that administration lawmakers have an axe to grind against Alvarez for his handling of the Death Penalty Bill.
Alvarez is losing his power base in the House, said the Ifugao lawmaker.
Alvarez has an ongoing spat with party mate Rep. Antonio Floirendo, Jr., that sparked from a quarrel between their girlfriends during a recent festival in Bacolod in Negros Occidental.
The rift has turned to the worse, with Alvarez filing a graft charge in the Ombudsman against Floirendo in connection with the Joint Venture agreement (JVA) between the Bureau of Correction and the Floirendo-owned Tagum Development Corporation (Tadeco). The deal involved over 5,000 hectares of the Davao Penal Colony in Sto. Tomas in Davao del Norte that Tadeco developed into a banana plantation. Alvarez and Floirendo, both from Davao del Norte, are long-time friends.
Opposition lawmakers, following the Alvarez-Floirendo rift, are said to be courting Supermajority solons into their fold to gain numbers in a plan to unseat the Speaker. The plot, reportedly is led by the Magdalo Party of Senator Antonio Trillanes.
Floirendo, one of the biggest contributors to the campaign of President Duterte in the 2016 election, has dismissed rumors that he was behind a plot to depose Alvarez. The plot reportedly will be set into motion once Congress resumes sessions in May.
The rift will adversely affect the unity of the administration’s so-called Supermajority, Baguilat told reporters in Manila.
He said the disunity caused by the spat in the LDP-led Supermajority is a threat to Alvarez’s leadership. Baguilat said even as the quarrel with Floirendo is personal, the rift will impact negatively on the “power base” of the Speaker. “The rift between Alvarez and Floirendo, although personal, can weaken the power base of the Speaker,” Baguilat said.
Before the rift with Floirendo, there was already an ominous sign that showed Alvarez’s diminishing hold in the House and the direction of the Supermajority, according to Baguilat. He was referring to the vote on the Death Penalty Bill. “If there’s a more telling sign of the coalition’s unraveling, it’s the death penalty vote which showed several chairmen going against the administration position,” said Baguilat.
Even as several administration lawmakers were against re-imposing capital punishment on certain crimes, the House approved the Death Penalty Bill over threats by Alvarez that those who vote against the bill would be expelled from the Supermajority or lose their committee chairmanship.