Speaker wants top Duterte campaign donor probed for graft

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 28 2017 02:22 PM | Updated as of Mar 29 2017 10:14 AM

2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo, Jr. and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez Composite

MANILA - House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has asked the Ombudsman to investigate Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio Floirendo, Jr. for graft over the government's allegedly anomalous lease of land to a firm "wholly owned" by the Floirendo family.

Alvarez's move suggests possible infighting among the allies of President Rodrigo Duterte. Alvarez is the President's highest-ranked ally in the House of Representatives, while Floirendo is the biggest campaign donor of Duterte, giving P75 million to the then-PDP-Laban bet in the 2016 elections. 

Alvarez’s complaint stems from the Bureau of Corrections' (BuCor) joint-venture agreement with Tagum Development Company, Inc. (Tadeco) in 2003, for the lease of land used as a banana plantation.

Tadeco is a subsidiary of Anflo Management and Investment Corporation (Anflocor), the shares of which are "collectively owned" by the Floirendo family. 

Based on the general information sheet at the Securities and Exchange Commission database, Floirendo had shares of stocks in Tadeco from 1996 to 2003. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of Tadeco and Anflocor.

The Speaker accused Floirendo of committing graft after the BuCor and Tadeco entered into a consolidated joint venture agreement in 2003. At that time, Floirendo represented Davao del Norte in the 12th Congress.

Alvarez said Article 6 of the Constitution prohibits a lawmaker like Floirendo from having a financial interest in any contract or franchise granted by the government.

The agreement involved the renewal of the lease of BuCor’s 3,000-hectare land at the Davao Penal Colony to Tadeco for its banana plantation. The lease was first signed in 1969 and extended for 25 years following negotiations in 1979.

As part of the agreement, BuCor received a guaranteed annual production share of P26,541,809 from Tadeco. The deal provided an "increase by 10% every five years, for 5,308.36 hectares of leased land, and further provided that BuCor shall receive profit shares with respect to the leased land where bananas are planted."

Alvarez said Floirendo had direct financial or pecuniary interest in the renewal of Tadeco’s agreement with BuCor.

The complaint states that there was no proof that Floirendo divested his shares of stocks in his family's corporations. Although Floirendo was no longer a member of the Tadeco Board of Directors in 2003, he still allegedly kept his shares in Tadeco, as well as his board membership in Anflocor.

"In fact, (Floirendo's) absence in Tadeco’s Board in 2003, may be construed as an attempt to hide the fact his continued pecuniary interest and purposely done in order to mask the illegal acts of the Respondent (Floirendo)," the complaint reads.

The 8-page complaint was filed on March 13, 2017.

ABS-CBN News sought Floirendo's side on the complaint. His camp said they have yet to receive a copy of the complaint.