MANILA- The public may just be hearing about the extra-marital affair of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, but for one of his allies, it has been an open secret in the halls of Congress.
Kabayan Party-list Rep. Harry Roque stressed this as he fended off the possibility of Alvarez losing his speakership over his affair which he claimed had no bearing on Alvarez's work.
For Roque, Alvarez has never really hidden this part of his life.
"I don’t know if the constituents know about these affairs but my feeling is he has never hidden it. Everyone knew in Congress. I knew from day 1 they (Alvarez and his wife, Emelita Apostol Alvarez) were estranged. I knew at some point he had an affair with this woman. I’ve seen her in functions so there was no attempt (to conceal)," he said.
Roque added that he thinks the Speaker did not have a girlfriend yet during the campaign period for the May 2016 elections.
"I had no idea they (Alvarez and Emelita) were estranged as of election day and proclamation in May. I think the Speaker probably did not have this affair with this woman yet. I think I am sure in that regard when Mrs. Alvarez joined the Speaker when he was elected, I believe he had no affair with the woman…This affair must have happened after," he said.
Alvarez admitted that he had a girlfriend after Cathy Binag, the live-in girlfriend of Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr, claimed that it was her spat with Alvarez's girlfriend, Jennifer Maliwanag Vicencio, that triggered Alvarez's own spat with Floirendo.
Alvarez also admitted in a DZMM interview that he has "many" children out of wedlock.
The Speaker filed a complaint at the Ombudsman against Floirendo for graft over the government's allegedly anomalous lease of land to a firm "wholly owned" by the Floirendo family.
Roque stressed that while the girlfriend was never introduced, he would see her on occasions such as a birthday party that he attended with the Speaker.
Roque maintained that the Speaker is entitled to a private life especially if it does not interfere with his work in government.
"Let’s just say that the Speaker will still have a private life. The speaker is still entitled to have a private life for as long as it will not have an impact on his public service," he said.
Lawmakers do not see Alvarez being replaced anytime soon despite his admission of an extra-marital affair.
His allies point out that the Speakership, in reality, is the choice of one man alone—the President, who has maintained his confidence on Alvarez.
Over the weekend, President Rodrigo Duterte was lecturing about hypocrisy and double standards from his critics when he defended Alvarez’s admission of having a girlfriend.
"We're all hypocrites pati si Speaker, lahat kami dito wala nang ranggo kapag ganun. Sino bang walang kaligayahan?" Duterte said.