MANILA - Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez briefly came face to face and shook hands before President Rodrigo Duterte at a dinner for administration allies in Pasay City, Thursday night.
The dinner party was hosted by Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco and his wife Wen at Sofitel Philippine Plaza.
The Davao City mayor told ABS-CBN in a statement, “Yes, shake hands. No talking. My mother told me to be kind to Speaker Alvarez. PRD [President Rodrigo Duterte] told me not to harbor anger. I just want to focus on Davao City.”
Alvarez and Mayor Duterte came face to face as she walked with the President to greet the other guests seated at the presidential table.
The President proceeded to the stage to deliver his speech as Mayor Duterte sat beside former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who was also on the presidential table.
Towards the end of his speech, Duterte led the audience in singing happy birthday to Arroyo, who turned 71 on Thursday.
"I came here also to join you and to greet the president, President Arroyo. May I be allowed Ma'am to sing for you," he said.
Duterte, later on, proceeded to rib both Alvarez and Arroyo.
“Mukhang si Speaker matamlay. Sabi ni Ma’am, sabihin mo sa kaibigan mo na wala akong ambisyong maging Speaker.”
Arroyo and Alvarez were pictured together while waiting for Duterte’s arrival earlier in the evening.
Arroyo had long been rumored to be a possible replacement to the controversial Alvarez, rumors that got louder following his public rift with Mayor Duterte over the mayor’s regional party, Hugpong sa Pagbabago, among other issues.
Arroyo sat between father and daughter at the presidential table. Alvarez was on the same table but seated a few chairs away, between Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and former Speaker Sonny Belmonte. Ms. Cielito Avancena and Mrs. Betty Medialdea sat beside the President and his executive secretary.
In his opening remarks, Velasco explained why there was a dinner.
“People have been asking us about this dinner, what are we celebrating, is there a special occasion. In all honesty, my wife Wen and I just wanted us to have a chance to get together in the company of friends and allies with people who are like-minded in our love for our country and for our president.”
Velasco also greeted Arroyo and Duterte, who himself turned 73 last March 28.
Velasco spoke to ABS-CBN before the program began and said, “This event is about members of Congress, my colleagues, or members of the executive, judiciary just to come to celebrate a man, our president for all his accomplishments and all that he has done for the country.”
Velasco himself had been the subject of speculation that he may be House majority leader to a possible Speaker Arroyo.
Asked about the current context of the rumors on the House leadership, Velasco said, “With the leadership of the House, I think it's very strong when it comes with the - yes actually he’s here right now celebrating with us - actually it’s all rumors to me. Personally, I don't even know where those rumors came from so I think if there’s any issue when it comes to the ouster of the Speaker or whoever, definitely I can say it’s not true and definitely it's not coming from me.”
Seated at the next presidential table were Rep. Velasco and wife Wen among prominent personalities that included businessmen Manny Pangilinan and Ramon Ang.
The event was a who’s who of Philippine politics as it had members of the Duterte Cabinet, Velasco’s present and former colleagues in the Lower House, as well as members of the Judiciary. Velasco is the son of Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco.
President Duterte sang “Ikaw”, one of his favorite songs, with concert king Martin Nievera.
Other performers during the event held at Sofitel Harbor Garden Tent were Zsa Zsa Padilla, Jed Madela and Lani Misalucha.
In his message, the President said he is honored by the invitation to attend the dinner concert.
“It is inspiring to see in this occasion in continuing show of support for the administration’s fight against the proliferation of illegal drugs, criminality and corruption,” he said.
“Rest assured that the government will not disappoint the Filipino people because they entrusted their faith and confidence in us. It is therefore imperative that we realize our aspirations to providing a more comfortable and productive life for everybody.”
He told his audience not to be blinded by the positions they hold and continue to uphold the welfare of the people to ensure that younger generation of Filipinos would get brighter future.
Sara DUterte, Pantaleon Alvarez, Rodrigo Duterte, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, House of Representatives, judiciary, Lord Allan Jay Velasco