Alvarez says House speaker post secured via vote buying; Others are skeptical

May 31, 2019 - 12:04 PM
Pantaleon Alvarez
Pantaleon Alvarez speaks at an event before President Duterte in early 2017. Months later, Alvarez would be unseated and the speaker post taken over by Gloria Arroyo hours before the Duterte's State of the Nation Address in July. (The STAR, file)

Despite denials of some congressmen that the House speakership is bought, others remained skeptical of reports of vote buying.

House majority leader Fredenil Castro and minority leader Danilo Suarez both appeared in an interview where they denied the controversial claims of former House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.

“First, congressmen are not for sale. Second, congressmen are not cheap — cheap in the sense that they have integrity to maintain,” Castro said.

Suarez claimed that Alvarez can “speak for himself” on the issue since the latter served as house speaker before he was unseated by Rep. Gloria Arroyo (Pampanga).

“Even the former speaker (Alvarez) can speak for himself. I mean, naging speaker siya, gumastos ba siya? Wala. Eh nung nag-break away si GMA, may gastusan ba? Wala,” he said.

Rep. Lord Allan Velasco (Marinduque) similarly denied handing out money to his fellow legislators in exchange for their votes in the speakership bid.

According to him, those aspiring for the position would not “go to that type of wheeling and dealing.” He added that a congressman will not be “bought that easily.”

Alvarez, who made the allegations in the first place, also denied that he was involved in such practices.

“Purposely, hindi ako lumapit doon sa mga funders para mayroon akong ipamigay na P500,000, P1 million,” he said in a different interview.

Some Filipinos on social media, however, remain skeptical of their statements.

“Naku! In denial! Hindi lahat, pero halos naman lahat pera pera lang ‘yan!” a Facebook user commented.

“Sa mga simpleng tao may bilihan ng boto… sa inyo pa kaya… ang isda nahuhuli sa bibig,” another user wrote.

Another one recalled a similar issue of vote buying that actually occurred before—during the 2019 midterm elections.

“Just like there is no such thing as vote buying in every election,” a different Facebook user commented with sarcasm.

Rep. Gary Alejano of the Magdalo party-list, meanwhile, expressed his disgust at Alvarez’s claims and said that as a congressman, he has always “voted for the speakership out of principle and not out of money.”

Alvarez claimed in a May 27 interview that two contenders for speaker allegedly handed out cash within the Congress to secure votes.

“Sinabi sa akin ng mga kasamahan ko, mayroong nag-offer ng P500,000 per congressman and then sinagot naman tig-P1 million per congressman,” he shared.

The former house speaker alleged that the legislators would sign a manifestation of support—which he claimed of seeing personally—that has purportedly received 100 signatures by that time.

Several congressmen are currently vying for the house speakership role as the 18th Congress opens on July 22, the same day that a house speaker would be elected.

Some of them are Alvarez, Velasco, incoming Rep. Martin Romualdez (Leyte), incoming Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig) and incoming Rep. Loren Legarda (Antique).