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‘Girlfriends’ behind Alvarez-Floirendo spat?

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Did a feud between their “girlfriends” cause bosom buddies to part ways?

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. used to be inseparable. But now Alvarez has asked the ombudsman to investigate Floirendo for graft over the government’s allegedly anomalous lease of land to a firm wholly owned by the latter’s family.

Sources said the feud between Alvarez and Floirendo started on Oct. 2 last year when both congressmen joined President Duterte at the Masskara Festival in Bacolod City.

Floirendo’s current live-in partner Cathy Binag, who accompanied him in Bacolod, reportedly had an altercation with Alvarez’s female companion.

The same sources said Alvarez’s female companion shouted at Binag in front of everyone. 

Binag said that Alvarez was mad at them because his wife Emily and their children would always run to them (Binag and Floirendo) for help whenever they were in trouble with the Speaker.

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The supposed rift between the two women has reportedly remained unsettled. 

Since that Bacolod incident, the relationship between Alvarez and Floirendo turned sour, until the Speaker asked the ombudsman to look into the transaction between the Tagum Agricultural Development Corp. and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), whose land is being leased by Tadeco for a banana plantation in Panabo, Davao del Norte. 

Binag was quick to point out, though, that she is just being used in the fight between Alvarez and Floirendo. She said that there are other reasons why the two have been at loggerheads. 

Alvarez called up The STAR last night and admitted that he has a relationship with the woman, but that it is incidental to the main issue, which is the anomalous contract.

“Incidental lang ‘yan (It is just incidental). Oo, may relasyon ako, pero hindi nalulugi ang gobyerno diyan (Yes, I have a relationship with her, but the government isn’t losing money on that). Look at the contract, which is disadvantageous to the government,” he said.

Duterte reportedly tried to patch things up between Alvarez and Floirendo, but did not succeed.

The two lawmakers were the best of friends dating back to the 2000s, when they were still neophyte representatives of their respective districts in Davao del Norte.

Both also supported the same presidential candidate, then-Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte, in the May 9, 2016 elections. 

Floirendo was the biggest campaign contributor of Duterte.

Floirendo is estranged from his wife, Miss Universe 1973 Margie Moran.

Still in fighting mood

Despite the passage of the death penalty bill, Alvarez remains in a fighting mood, more particularly with members of the House of Representatives who reportedly did not like the way he implemented the so-called purging.

Wala akong problema diyan. Iyung mga nag-i-isip na mag-unseat sa akin (I have no problem with that. Those who are thinking of unseating me), go ahead, make my day,” he declared yesterday in an interview, apparently challenging Floirendo.

The Speaker issued the statement following persistent rumors he has been at odds with Duterte’s close ally, who wanted to replace him with former president and Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Arroyo, the former deputy speaker, was among the casualties in the House purge after she voted “no” to the passage of the death penalty bill.

Rumors also circulate that Floirendo would try the speakership himself if Arroyo refuses.

Apart from his rift with the banana magnate, speculations also abound that Alvarez might only antagonize his administration colleagues, following his threat to make good his promise to impeach Vice President Leni Robredo, despite Duterte’s call for them to lay off.

Binibigyan nila ng slant iyan na hindi maganda (They are giving it a negative slant). But we have to be objective about it. Kung ganyan lang (If it’s just like that), you know, kung gusto nila iyong (if they’re eyeing the) speakership... I’m just doing this for the country,” Alvarez insisted.

The Speaker clarified that his House Resolution 867, which seeks a congressional inquiry into Floirendo’s banana firm Tadeco’s 25-year lease contract with the BuCor, has nothing to do with alleged plots to oust him.

“I have no problem with that kasi (because), in the first place, wala akong (I don’t have) ambition (to become Speaker). I can always risk the speakership anytime,” Alvarez, the transportation secretary during Arroyo’s term, stressed.

Rumors also have it that Alvarez wanted Robredo, the highest elected ranking official of the opposition Liberal Party, impeached so that he could replace her as vice president, but this may also pose a problem with another ally, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Cayetano was Duterte’s runningmate but lost to Robredo.

Alvarez has categorically denied it, however, implying such rumors are preposterous.

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