House ethics body ‘unanimously’ decides to sanction Alvarez

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star
House ethics body �unanimously� decides to sanction Alvarez
This photo shows a picture of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The House ethics committee has “unanimously” decided to impose an administrative sanction against former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for alleged disorderly behavior, following his purported seditious remarks against the Marcos administration.

But panel member Rep. Raul Angelo Bongalon refused to disclose to journalists the administrative penalty recommended – whether it is just a reprimand, a slap on the wrist or a warning not to repeat the offense again.

“We discussed the merits of the case, but I’m sorry… I’m not at liberty to disclose the recommendations. But it was unanimous – that is most certain,” Bongalon of Ako Bicol party-list said at a news briefing.

He clarified that the decision of the committee, headed by Rep. Felimon Espares of Coop-Natcco party-list, is only recommendatory and subject to the approval of the plenary.

“The committee is finalizing the report,” Bongalon said.

House Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe, who heads the House committee on rules where the Alvarez report will be submitted, promised newsmen that his panel would report to the plenary the administrative sanction at the soonest time possible.

“We want to dispense with this (Alvarez complaint) right away. But we will wait for the committee report. As soon as we get it, we can take it up any time before the sine die adjournment,” Dalipe said, referring to today being the last day of sessions.

The complaint against Alavarez, which was filed by Tagum City Mayor Rey Uy, stemmed from his alleged remarks against local government officials and pronouncements during the so-called “prayer rallies,” which have been the subject of the investigation by the Espares panel.

Alvarez, whose counsel is former Ilocos Norte congressman Rodolfo Fariñas, refused to apologize to Uy and to his colleagues in the House, invoking his constitutional right to free speech.

Fariñas served as Alvarez’s majority leader when he was House speaker.

Alvarez, a buddy of former president Rodrigo Duterte, earlier faced three violations in his ethics complaint: disorderly behavior as a public official, conduct unbecoming as well as violation of the libel provision of he Revised Penal Code and inciting to sedition.

He served as Duterte’s House speaker during his first two years in office until he was ousted in July 2018 and replaced by former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who served as speaker until June 2019.

Bongalon earlier told journalists that the House ethics probe on Alvarez for disorderly conduct is devoid of politics.

“I just want to clarify that this complaint started because a case was filed against him. The committee on ethics has to act on the complaint filed,” Bongalon said.

He said it just happened that the subject of the complaint is a member of the House and the committee “has to act on it.”

In a rally of the supporters of Duterte in Tagum on April 14, Alvarez urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to turn their backs on Marcos, who is the commander-in-chief of the AFP.

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