MANILA - Malacañang on Friday downplayed President Rodrigo Duterte’s admission that his daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, "maneuvered” the ouster of Davao Del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez as Speaker.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said even if Sara wielded her influence, it was the lawmakers who had the final say on Alvarez’s fate.
Panelo said prior to the ouster, he had learned of some lawmakers’ misgivings on how Alvarez supposedly led the lower chamber.
“Ultimately whoever suggested the ouster, ang magde-decide pa rin ang members ng Kongreso. ‘Di ba narinig natin iyong mga bumoto, sinasabi nila they were discontented with the way it is being run,” Panelo told dzRH.
Panelo, nonetheless, acknowledged how Alvarez shepherded bills that were important to the administration.
“Rightly or wrongly, iyan ang perception ng mga bumoto laban sa kaniya. Pero as far as the administration is concerned iyong ginawa ni Speaker Alvarez eh pabor sa administrasyon, iyong mga bills na sinertify na urgent napalusot niya lahat iyon,” he said.
Alvarez was ousted as Speaker on the day Duterte delivered his third State of the Nation Address in July, with Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo installed to power.
It was the first time the President himself confirmed his daughter's role in the removal of his closest ally in the House of Representatives.
Duterte, who described Alvarez as a “close friend of mine,” said he learned of Sara’s role in Alvarez’s ouster through Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
He said Puyat and Sara bumped into each other at the restroom of the Batasang Pambansa during the SONA and the latter admitted her role in the ouster.
“Sinabi daw ni Inday - nagkita sila sa washroom- 'Tell my father, I'm sorry.’ So I did not know the implication of that. Wala akong... honest to God. Si Inday, ‘yon, minaneuver niya," Duterte said, referring to his daughter by her nickname.
In February, Duterte's daughter slammed Alvarez and called him an "insecure fat sleaze" for allegedly calling her a part of the opposition when she formed a separate regional political party, Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
Alvarez, a stalwart of the President's party PDP-Laban, had denied the Davao mayor's allegations, saying somebody might have just misheard him.
Both Sara Duterte and Alvarez are gunning for reelection in the midterm polls: she as Davao City mayor and he as Davao del Norte Representative.