MANILA–Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wants his leadership of the House of Representatives to be remembered as one that was able to address the country’s problems and one that is not a mere rubber stamp of the Executive Branch.
“Ako lang, gusto ko lang maalala yung House under my leadership na hindi naman siya rubber stamp ng Executive branch. The House of Representatives ay hindi sunud-sunuran sa gusto ng Executive branch, a House of Representatives na ina-address yung problema ng ating bayan,” Alvarez said in a TV interview Friday night.
Alvarez said he never imagined himself to occupy the fourth highest position in the land. But now that he has the job, he is willing to do what he thinks is right without fear of the consequences.
“Kailangan lang, huwag kang matakot. Gawin mo ang iniisip mong tama and then, face the consequences after your term. Kung kailangang makulong ka, di makulong ka. Kumandidato ka, so, panindigan mo yan. Walang mangyayari pag takot ka. Leadership is not for cowards,” he added.
Under his leadership, the House recently passed the controversial bill reviving the death penalty amid strong opposition from the Catholic Church, human rights advocates, and several non-government organizations.
Alvarez said he does what he thinks is right because he has no further political ambitions, saying he would retire from politics at the end of the term of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Pagka-meron kang ambisyon na ganoon, wala kang magagawang trabaho na maayos kasi mag-iingat ka. Kaya ayaw ko ng ganoon. Ako, ang priority ko, we will be able to institute reforms dito sa bansa natin,” Alvarez said.
He acknowledged that being Speaker of the House is not an easy task because he has to address the concerns and needs of around 300 members who are political bigwigs in their respective districts. In addition, he has to contend with the interests of Malacañang, the public and the constant media attention.
“Ang hirap. Pero alam mo, kasama lahat sa pulitika yan at hindi naman tayo nangangamba dahil ako, I can always risk the Speakership,” Alvarez said. It is encouraging, Alvarez noted, that members of the 17th Congress are generally cooperative and supportive of his desire to improve the image of the chamber.
Topmost in the reforms in the country Alvarez wants to see done within his term is the revision of the constitution to shift to a federal system of government.
In fact, Alvarez said this is one of the reasons why he prodded Duterte to run for President in the 2016 elections.
“Sabi namin, subukan lang natin. You know since both of us are advocates of federalism, let’s try to sell it sa buong bansa,” he said.
Alvarez is confident the charter change for the shift to a federal system can be accomplished between 2019 and 2022.
The Speaker vowed he would continue to support Duterte until the end of the President’s term. Alvarez said he feels responsible for Duterte’s election as one of the persons who convinced him to run for President.