Fariñas: You meet the kindest, cruelest persons in politics
MANILA - Former House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas on Tuesday finally broke his silence since the ouster of Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as House Speaker.
Fariñas said there was "deception” and "premeditation" in the move to oust former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
The change in leadership could have been smooth if only someone approached him with a manifestation signed by the majority, he said.
“Like when they say we have the numbers, why prolong or resist if they have numbers? We could've transitioned. Mag-usap na baka pwedeng bukas iyan. Deception was there,” he said.
“Can you imagine if we did not adjourn, and they would want to declare the seats vacant, eh di lengthy iyan. If we allowed it to happen, eh di lalong nabulilyaso. Kaya nga respeto sana. Mag-iimbita tayo ng guest tapos mag-aaway tayo bago dumating. Bakit hindi na lang ginawa the following day or Tuesday? There was also some sort of premeditation. I have to have order eh, because we are receiving the President."
Fariñas revealed that as early as March, he received an offer to keep his post as majority leader if he supports the move to replace Alvarez as speaker.
“March pa, nilalapitan na ako. Na if I would want to be, palitan lang si Speaker. and everything will be as is. Ako pa rin ang majority leader. I said no, I’m sorry, loyal ako na person eh. Majority leader ako ni Alvarez, I will be Majority Leader to him only. Hindi ako papayag sa ganyan,” he said.
Fariñas said he told Alvarez and President Rodrigo Duterte about the planned ouster but Duterte assured them that then-Speaker Alvarez continued to enjoy his trust and confidence.
However, in the morning of July 23, the day of Duterte's third State of the Nation Address, Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay met with Fariñas to inform him that the move to replace Alvarez is gaining traction.
“Pumunta sa akin si Cong. Pichay. Sabi niya, 'I promised you before pag seryoso na, sasabihin ko sayo. Ito seryoso na. Tanggapin mo na. Si Bebot lang naman ang papalitan.' Sabi ko, 'Pare, hindi ako interested sa ganyan. Ang majority leader, dapat trust and confidence ng Speaker yan.' They thought that I would cling to my position. No,” Fariñas said.
He said he then called for a caucus to present the bicam-approved version of the Bangsamoro Organic Law. He asked around 80 lawmakers who were present about the reported plan to oust Alvarez, but they were mum.
“Ano yung naririnig ko na parang may move? Ayaw naman magsalita. Sabi ko, tell me, sino bang ayaw kay Speaker dito? Okay naman, okay naman, sabi nila. That’s what I got,” Fariñas said.
He also confirmed calling for a meeting with PDP-Laban solons to do a "loyalty check," but denied reports that he raised his voice at now Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. who was in the meeting.
“Before we started I said itong meeting ay loyalty check, for Speaker Alvarez. So anyone here, kapag nakapag-commit na kayo, I ask that kindly step out na lang. Mamaya papasok si Andaya. Sabi ko, 'Noy, are you for Speaker Alvarez?' 'Hindi, I wanted to talk to you.' 'Pare, sorry, dito muna kami. We are meeting here para alam namin what to do, so step out,'" Fariñas said.
“Hindi nabulyawan. Sinungaling siya kung sabihin niya nabulyawan siya,” he added.
It was at that meeting that the group agreed to abruptly adjourn the session, even before the House was able to pass the BOL—a priority legislation, which was expected to be signed by the President on that day.
“When the transition committee saw me, sabi nila Majority Leader, can we have a smooth transition para hindi nakakahiya? I told them, eh kayo gumawa ng kahihiyan. If you had approached me Monday, just tell me we have the numbers, the resolution, we could have done it properly. But you did not do it that way. Naririnig lang namin na may ganiyan,” he added.
Fariñas said he advised fellow lawmakers in the group to secure their positions, but some still opted to stay.
“Constantly I tell them, 'Pare, take care of your concerns, sumama na kayo, i-keep niyo ang position niyo. Sabi nila, 'We’ll just stay, para sa'min mas honorable ito,'” he said.
Despite the incident, Fariñas denied holding grudges against those who worked to oust Alvarez, including Ilocos Gov. Imee Marcos, who reportedly had a hand in the ouster.
“I don’t blame her. Ganiyan lang ang pulitika,” he said.
“I’ve been in politics for a very long time. I know how politics is. Politics is the art of the possible. You meet the kindest and cruelest persons. No grudges."