MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Monday said he would quit his post if his critics would be able to prove that he had spent public funds during his birthday bash last week.
“Patunayan nila na pera ng bayan ‘yon, mag-resign ako,” Alvarez said in a TV interview, as he denied spending people’s money for the event.
The Speaker issued the challenge after bashers in the social media and some newspaper columnists raised questions on the source of funds spent for his 60th birthday bash at the Tagum City Hall in Davao del Norte last January 12.
Alvarez said that while he did not usually hold birthday celebrations, this year was different because it marked a significant milestone in his life.
“Ngayon, kung gusto nilang mag-celebrate ng birthday nila o di mag-celebrate sila. Ako, minsan lang ako nag-celebrate ng birthday ko. Ito lang dahil nga, alam mo na, na magsi-senior citizen ka na, kaunting selebrasyon, di ba? O, last year wala naman akong celebration,” he said.
[Now, if they want to celebrate their birthdays, then go ahead do it. I only celebrated my birthday once. It was because, you know, I would already be a senior citizen, so there should be a little celebration. I didn’t have any celebrations last year.]
For the record, Alvarez said he spent his own money, along with those contributed by his friends, for the birthday celebration, which he did not consider as extravagant.
“Doon ako nag-birthday sa city hall, hindi d’yan sa Shangri-La [I spent my birthday at the city hall, not there at the Shangri-La],” Alvarez pointed out.
Moreover, the Speaker said he saw nothing wrong with giving his constituents a treat on his birthday.
“Masama bang i-blow out ko ang constituents ko [Is it wrong for me to give a blowout to my constituents]?” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said he did not care if critics would persist in their efforts to malign him, particularly in uploading on YouTube videos of his birthday celebration.
“Alam mo puwede nilang ipalabas ‘yan nang ipalabas. I don’t care, di ba? O, di magpaliwanag sila doon sa mga ano bumoboto sa akin, na masama iyong ginawa ko, pinakain ko sila,” Alvarez said.
[They can show that for as many times as they want. I don’t care. They should be the ones explaining to those who had voted me that offering them a food treat was bad.]
Earlier, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who attended the event along with President Rodrigo Duterte, defended Alvarez, saying the Speaker’s birthday celebration was a simple affair.
“I was in the birthday party of the Speaker. It was in the City Hall of Tagum. I don’t think it can be described as ma-garbo because he only availed of the physical facilities of the City Hall of Tagum,” Roque was quoted earlier in media reports.
Roque admitted that a number of government officials had attended the event but this was something expected given the stature of Alvarez.
“But it was very simple in terms of program and menu. It was a very simple meal,” Roque added.