MANILA—Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr. on Wednesday dispelled rumors that he is plotting to unseat Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
In a statement, Floirendo, son of the late banana magnate Antonio Sr., denied that he was behind any plot to oust Alvarez as Speaker and have him replaced by Pampanga Rep. Gloria-Macapagal Arroyo, who was removed as deputy speaker last March 15 for voting against the death penalty bill.
“I never attempted to talk to Arroyo nor would I ever support any plot to oust Speaker Alvarez who, in the first place, is a good friend of mine and whom I fully supported during the last election and in his bid for the speakership,” Floirendo said.
“If ever there is an iota of truth to the ouster plot, I am 100 percent not a part of it,” he added.
Alvarez and Floirendo are allies of President Rodrigo Duterte. Floirendo was Duterte’s biggest campaign contributor during the May 2016 polls with a contribution amounting to PHP75 million.
The rift between the Duterte allies developed when Alvarez filed a graft complaint against Floirendo before the Office of the Ombudsman for his alleged unconstitutional “business interest” over his banana firm Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc. (TADECO).
Alvarez also filed House Resolution (HR) No. 867 calling for a congressional inquiry into the grossly disadvantageous 25-year lease contract signed by the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and TADECO.
Floirendo said he considered Alvarez a “good friend” and the beef between them could just be a “brotherly misunderstanding” that could be quickly resolved.
Floirendo, however, admitted he was hurt by the Speaker’s moves against him.
“Admittedly I am hurt with the action of Speaker Alvarez against me. It not only affects me, but also my family, as well as the people of Davao del Norte. But that’s politics. What is important is that I know deep down my conscience that I have not done anything wrong nor have I committed any criminal act,” he said.
“I welcome any complaint to be filed against me and I am ready to face them with a clear conscience,” he added.
Alvarez, for his part, is unperturbed by alleged threats to unseat him as speaker, saying that “they can pull the trigger and give their best shot.”
Rumors about unseating Alvarez flared up when the House leadership stripped lawmakers of their committee and deputy speakership posts for voting against the death penalty bill.
To recall, Majority Floor Leader Rodolfo Fariñas last March 15 declared vacant the posts of Deputy Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and eleven other committee chairmen who voted against the death penalty bill.