MANILA - Former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday said he was "disapponted" with the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, especially in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alvarez, once a stalwart of Duterte's PDP-Laban and was even his first House Speaker, said he had high hopes when he supported the former Davao City mayor in his bid for the presidency.
"Para sa akin, having supported the President nung tumakbo siya, yung expectation ko malaki. Now, patapos na yung term, I should be frank enough to say that I am disappointed," the representative of Davao del Norte told ANC's Headstart.
(For me, having supported the President when he ran, my expectations were huge. Now that his term is about to end, I should be frank enough to say that I am disappointed.)
Asked what he was disappointed about, he specifically cited the pandemic response, which he said pales in comparison to countries such as Vietnam.
"Yung handling ng pandemic doon, di hamak na mas maganda kaysa sa atin. Anong nangyari? Bakit hanggang ngayon ay nandito pa rin tayo? Marami pa ring namamatay, even yung needs ng mga hospitals kulang," he said.
(The handling of the pandemic there, it was much better than ours. What happened? How come we're still here? Many people are still dying and the needs of the hospitals are not met.)
Pressed if, having known Duterte for a long time, he thinks it's the President who is running the show or if he is listening to someone else, the ousted House leader said he doesn't know.
"Hindi ko alam ngayon dahil hindi naman ako madalas nakikipag-halubilo na. Hindi ko alam sino talagang nagpapatakbo," he said.
(I don't know anymore because I don't interact much. I don't know who's running it.)
He said he "had to support" the administration while he was still part of it because like many, he wanted it to be successful for the benefit of the country.
"Pero siyempre pag nakita natin na kailangang magbago ng pananaw, depende sa hinaharap na problema ng ating bansa, flexible dapat tayo," he said.
(But of course if we see that our opinions must change depending on the problems being faced by the country, we have to be flexible.)
Alvarez was removed from the speakership in a tussle on the day Duterte delivered his State of the Nation Address in 2018. It was believed that Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, had a hand in the move which saw former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo take over the House leadership.
He said he has spoken with Duterte since his ouster, but it was a simple "kumustahan." He said he never asked the chief executive about the coup because it was over and he wishes to stay "forward-looking."
Alvarez has since resigned from the PDP-Laban Party and is now part of political party Partido Reporma, which pushes for the presidency of Sen. Panfilo Lacson and the vice presidency of Senate President Vicente Sotto III.
He said it is difficult to tell if Duterte is serious about running for the vice-presidency as the President previously announced, but as a friend, he hopes he doesn't push through with it.
"Champion ka na eh. Bakit ka pa susugal sa isang eleksiyon? Alam mo pag eleksiyon, hindi tayo nakakasiguro na panalo. Mahirap siguruhin yun. Kung ikaw, champion ka na, mas magandang you retire as champion," he said.
(You're already a champion. Why gamble in another election? You know when it's election, we can't be certain about winning. That's difficult to ensure. If you're already a champion, it's better to retire as champion.)