Alvarez denies link between Tadeco raps, feuding girlfriends

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2017 04:07 PM

Davao congressman Antonio Floirendo Jr. and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez File/Composite

MANILA - House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday urged the public not to view his graft complaint against fellow Davao congressman Antonio Floirendo Jr. in the context of the feud between their alleged "girlfriends."

This, after the Philippine Star reported that Alvarez's friendship with Floirendo soured because of a quarrel between their alleged "girlfriends."

Alvarez was asked about this during an interview on radio DZMM.

Anchor Noli de Castro asked, "Parang kinukulayan ho nila dahil nga sa away daw ninyo ni Floirendo dahil nga daw sa… Well babae, babae niyo, babae ni Floirendo parang ganoon. Parang kinukulayan nila ngayon nang dahil sa nangyari na yon, ito na nga, lumabas itong kinekuwestyon niyo ngayon, yung Tadeco ni Floirendo?"

Alvarez responded, "Hindi po, Kabayan. Hindi po yan ano, ibang slant na po ibinibigay diyan. Pero sa akin tingnan natin kung tama ba o mali, talo ba ang Gobyerno o hindi? Tingnan natin yung demanda sa Ombudsman."

De Castro, however, followed up, "So parang sinabi niyo na, ok, may away ang mga babae namin, pero iba namang kuwestiyon ito, parang ganoon?"

Alvarez responded, "Opo, opo. Tingnan natin nang hiwalay."

ANOMALOUS DEAL?

Alvarez granted an interview to DZMM after he filed a complaint against Floirendo before the Ombudsman in connection with the allegedly anomalous lease agreement between Floirendo's Tadeco and the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor), which leased portions of the Davao Penal Colony to the firm's banana plantation.

The Speaker alleged that Floirendo violated the prohibition against government officials securing government contracts while in office.

Floirendo was a sitting congressman when the deal was sealed in 2003, he said.

Alvarez also asked the House Committee on Good Government to investigate the allegedly anomalous deal.

Talks of a feud between Alvarez and Floirendo have swirled at the same time that rumors that the Speaker's post is being threatened by former president now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo.

Floirendo, who is also Duterte's top campaign contributor, is said to be backing Arroyo, if not gunning for the Speakership himself.

Some sources however alleged that the rift between Floirendo and Alvarez is at a more personal and intimate level because it supposedly began with a spat between their alleged "girlfriends."

Alvarez neither confirmed nor denied that it was the reason they are feuding.

"Iyan po Kabayan, trabaho na po ng PR iyan. Sa PR lang po iyan, binibigyan ng ibang slant iyong kaso. Opo, ang sa akin naman Kabayan, ay iyong tsismis na iyan, hindi po kikita ang bansa diyan. Kailangan po tumutok tayo doon mismo sa kontrata ng Tadeco na ipinasok ng gobyerno."

Alvarez reiterated that the reason for the feud is his misgivings about the deal, which he enumerated.

"Iyong kontrata po mismo, dahil unang-una, ito ay ni-renew noong 2004, na hindi po dumaan sa public bidding. So matagal na ho silang nakinabang doon, dinivelop nila iyong lupa sa pamamagitan ng pag gamit noong mga preso. Tapos ngayon ito po ay nag-expire at ni-renew," he said.

"Noong ito ay ni-renew ay developed land na ito, at dapat po ay dumaan ito sa public bidding, kasi may procurement po…But since ito ay, alam mo naman, pagka nag-lease ka ng property lahat ho ng development diyan ay dapat sa owner na, kapag na-expire ang kontrata. Ngayon ang presyo ho niyan hindi na ho iyan katumbas ng isang undeveloped land, hindi ho ba? Ngunit ito ay ni-renew, unang-una, in violation of the procurement law dahil ho walang public bidding na naganap at ni-renew ho ito, Kabayan, ng only 5,000 per hectare per year, ang renta."

The Tadeco lease covers 5,308 hectares of Davao penal colony land.

Alvarez added: "Thousand per hectares per yer. Tapos ito po, para maiwasan nila yung public bidding, ang ginawa po kunwari ay joint venture with the government, Bureau of Corrections, BuCor."

"Ngayon po, ang tanong ko lang, ito ba ay sumunod sa procurement law? Kasi po, kapag tingnan yung procurement law, wala pong authority ang BuCor para makipag-joint venture. Ang mayroon lang pong authority ay yung government-owned and controlled corporations, hindi po yung national entity. So yun po ang isang dapat tingnan diyan."

"Pangalawa, bakit ni-renew ang kontrata ng 25 years, renewable for another 25 years? Ang going rate lang po doon ay five years to 10 years, ang kontrata ng raw land. Ito po ay talagang ikinasa ng mahabang panahon at napakababang presyo. Ngayon, to justify yung kanilang joint venture agreement, biruin mo Kabayan, binibigyan lang ang gobyerno ng share per box na one peso and thirty centavos."

Alvarez emphasized how this is disadvantageous to the government, calling on the Commission on Audit to study the deal.

"Yun po, kailangan mag-audit talaga ang COA, at saka i-audit din nila yung bayad na tinanggap po ng BuCor…Dapat po sa national government po yun. At saka ito ay mao-audit naman iyan Kabayan dahil may committee hearing nga kami dahil doon sa resolution na fi-nile ko, ipapatawag din nating bumibili ng saging, yung Del Monte at Dole," he said.

The Speaker also wants to check if TADECO's exports are properly documented.

"Tapos titingnan natin kung nagtutugma yung export declaration nila doon sa data po ng kanilang… ng bumibili at kausapin.Opo. Tapos, kinasuhan naman natin siya doon sa Ombudsman, Kabayan, sa kadahilanan na bilang Kongresista po, bawal po na kumuha ka ng kontrata sa gobyeryo. Noong 2004 po, nakaupo po siyang Congressman at ito ay paglabag sa Saligang Batas at sa anti-graft law. Ito po ay malinaw pa sa sikat ng araw talagang may problema talaga siya doon," he said.

Alvarez explained why he only exposed the deal now.

"Matagal ng tinago yung kontratang yan, Kabayan. In fact wala pong nakakasilip diyan," he said.

Speaking to ABS-CBN News by phone about the case at the Ombudsman, Floirendo said he will have to study the case first then respond appropriately afterwards.

Alvarez maintained that Floirendo did not divest himself of all businesses as required by law.

He said Congress will probe the matter when it comes back from the break.

OUSTER PLOTS

Alvarez meantime denied Floirendo was instrumental to his Speakership and downplayed Floirendo's role as top campaign contributor to the president.

"Let me correct it, Kabayan. Hindi po siya nakatulong sa pagiging Speaker ko, hindi po. Pangalawa, maaaring siya yung major contributor ng ating Pangulo, pero hindi po nangangahulugan na mayroon siyang lisensya para nakawan niya ang bayan," he said.

Alvarez even chided alleged plots to unseat him.

"Wala po sa akin yun, Kabayan. Go ahead... Kabayan, alam mo hindi ko naman pinangarap yung puwesto na iyan, so I can let it go anytime," he said.

For his part, Floirendo denied wanting Alvarez unseated either for himself or for Arroyo.

Arroyo has also repeatedly denied plotting to be Speaker allegedly with the backing of many anti-death penalty solons and other congressmen unhappy with Alvarez's style of leadership.

Arroyo herself just got unseated as deputy speaker after voting against the death penalty bill.

Arroyo, Floirendo and Alvarez are all known staunch allies of the President.