TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte (UPDATED) — Ousted speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez is gearing for a comeback in the House of Representatives as he took the lead in this province’s 1st district congressional race, based on partial and unofficial results.
Alvarez got 163,150 votes, while his estranged friend Davao del Norte Governor Anthony del Rosario is behind with 67,791 votes, according to election results from 730 of 744 clustered precincts.
The 2 are both allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, but it was del Rosario who got the endorsement.
In the 2nd district, Alvarez’s ally at Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Aldu Dujali, is also up against re-electionist Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr., with 123,247 and 90,503 initial votes, respectively.
Alvarez and Floirendo’s friendship earlier went sour due to politics and their feuding partners.
“Eleksyon lang ‘to. Sa akin naman wala lang ‘yun eh. Alam mo naman ako,” Alvarez told ABS-CBN News of the rift.
(This is just election. For me, it’s nothing. You know me.)
Meanwhile, Alvarez’s chief of staff, Edwin Jubahib, is also poised to win the gubernatorial race against Rodolfo del Rosario Jr., with 275,984 and 166,870 votes, respectively.
Alvarez and Jubahid are facing a fresh graft and plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman over alleged receipt of kickbacks from government projects and use of government funds to buy vehicles, parcels of land and a resort on Samal island.
Alvarez brushed off the complaint, saying it was nothing but a piece of “garbage.”
Davao del Norte has been in clutches of the Floirendo-del Rosario political dynasty for nearly four decades.
“This election, this is historic for Davao del Norte because we were able to dismantle 40-year political dynasty in the province,” Alvarez said.
The province has been a big beneficiary of the government’s ambitious infrastructure programs.
One major project now underway is a high-level road-bridge project in Tagum City expected to improve inter-regional linkages between Regions X, XI, and XII.
Davao del Norte was among the Mindanao provinces that achieved high reduction rate of poverty, from 27.2 percent in 2015 to 14.5 percent last year, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Maricel Aton, a janitor in Tagum City, said she is delighted to see new faces in the provincial level, while maintaining Alvarez as congressman in the 1st district whom she said helped her in the hospitalization of her mother.
“I am really happy because the administration has changed,” she said in Visayan dialect.
Sweeper Rose Marie Cagaton said she could not be happier for the end of the province’s political dynasty.
“Masaya kami kasi ang dami namang hindi nila naitulong dito sa Tagum City. Nu’ng namatayan kami, sabihin lang nila na, ‘Wala kaming pera, balik na lang kayo bukas.’ Tapos ‘yung ospital, malaki binabayaran namin noon, manghingi kami sa kanila, wala silang maibigay,” she said of the previous administration.
(We are happy because they did not help us much here in Tagum City. When we were bereaved, they would tell us, ‘We do not have money, come back tomorrow.’ Then we pay a lot in the hospital. When we ask for help, they could not give us anything.)