House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Saturday introduced his girlfriend as his current wife during a public speaking engagement in Davao del Norte.
"Siya na ang misis ko ngayon. Tingnan niyong mabuti baka may mamamasyal (na iba), magpapakilala (bilang siya), fake news 'yan," Alvarez said in a speech during the groundbreaking ceremony of a hospital in San Isidro town.
(She's my wife now. Look at her closely because someone else might come and introduce herself as my wife. That's fake news.)
Alvarez has been in a relationship with a certain Jennifer Malinawag Vicencio despite being married to Emelita Apostol Alvarez.
Alvarez's legal wife earlier said she was "abandoned" by her husband in 2016 after he was elected as House Speaker.
“Actually, I was abandoned right after SONA (State of the Nation Address) when he became the Speaker. We've been together for almost 30 years and I’ve been there since the very start, that was in 88. We’ve been through ups and downs, I’m there and people of Davao del Norte will testify that I was even the one who campaigned for him," she told ABS-CBN News in an interview last year.
TRIBAL LAWS AND THE FAMILY CODE
Alvarez earlier claimed he was not violating any law as he was a member of the Manobo tribe that allows polygamy.
According to the government website of Bukidnon, where most of the Manobo tribe are based, a Manobo member may "take another wife only if the first wife and her parents consented."
It said polygamy was "rarely practiced" and, in such cases, "the first wife remained the head wife."
In an earlier interview, a legal expert also said that Alvarez's tribal ties cannot dissolve his prior marriage because he was wed to Emelita in a civil union.
"If the Speaker was married under the Family Code and now he is a member of the Manobo tribe, with all due respect, it doesn't give him the license to live a polygamous life," said Soledad Mawis, dean of the Lyceum College of Law, in an ANC interview in August last year.
"It is because the first marriage contracted under the Family Code, must first be dissolved or terminated before he can marry someone else," she said.
Alvarez's colleagues in the House of Representatives have said his extramarital relationship has been an open secret.
The House Speaker openly talked about his relationship with Vicencio after his lover had a spat with the partner of Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. during the 2016 MassKara Festival in Bacolod.
Months after the altercation, Alvarez severed ties with Floirendo and launched a graft probe against President Rodrigo Duterte's top campaign donor.
Alvarez has filed a bill for the dissolution of marriages, and championed the civil union bill that legalizes civil partnerships.
-- with reports from Hernel Tocmo and Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News