ROUGH CUTS| Where Alvarez is most vulnerable

WE’D like to congratulate the members of the City Council for expeditiously passing on second reading the city’s P7.8 billion 2018 budget. It looks like a product of serious work. And we are not surprised. The chair of the Council’s budget and finance, ways and means committee is second district councilor Danilo Dayanghirang who has a track record of hard work when it comes to legislative activities.

Dayanghirang’s fellow members of his committee are also equally deserving of the Davaoenos’ appreciation for rendering their time and effort in working for the refining of the proposed budget of the city and finally endorsing it to the plenary which approved it on second reading.

We believe that the early approval of the 2018 budget will allow the City Council to efficiently wind up whatever remaining unfinished legislative businesses for the current year.

So, with next year’s budget already assured of final passage the City Council will be starting 2018 with clean slate; no backlog. That is, assuming that the local legislative body will indeed be able to accomplish all critical proposed ordinances that would facilitate local governance next year and the years after.

-oOo-

It looks like House Speaker and Davao del Norte Congressman Pantaleon Alvarez has already crossed his Rubicon.

That is, insofar as his political ties with fellow Davao del Norte Congressman Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr., his erstwhile friend and virtual “resurrector.”

Last week we saw and heard it on television news reports that Alvarez was egging the Ombudsman to act with dispatch the cases he has filed against Tonyboy. The cases came about after Alvarez found “questionable” the renewal of the lease by the Floirendo family-owned Tagum Agricultural Development Corp. (TADECO) of a huge portion of the Bureau of Correction (BUCOR) land reservation where the Davao Penal Farm is located in Panabo City, Davao del Norte. According to Alvarez the lease is disadvantageous to the government and that it was renewed even as the Floirendo scion was congressman of the province.

However, Floirendo Jr. and the top executives of TADECO are confident that they can ride through the Alvarez case. First, according to statements issued by the Floirendo camp, the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with the government’s BUCOR underwent a thorough review process including that of Congress and the Department of Justice. So, when it was finally signed it was clear that all legal impediments were already hurdled, the TADECO statements claimed.

As to the charge of conflict of interest, Floirendo Jr. had denied it time and again saying that when he was congressman he divested his interests in TADECO.

Not that we are siding with the Floirendos in this particular case but Alvarez himself was also a congressman before. As such he already had all the opportunity to look into the JVA and brought to the open all that he could have found illegal and disadvantageous to the government. But he did not. Instead, he continued hobnobbing with Floirendo Jr. and embraced the latter’s family influence in the Davao del Norte political sphere.

It was only after certain incidents involving their personal lives that Alvarez suddenly saw the illegal provisions of the JVA. In other words, the House Speaker found it convenient to forget his political relationship with Floirendo including the latter’s role in having the former as TADECO’s candidate in the 2016 Congressional election in Davao del Norte’s first district.

Of course the Speaker would always invoke the prioritization of the interest of the government over the interest of politicians and individuals if questioned about his motives in bringing cases against Floirendo Jr.. He is right in that aspect though.

But how long can Alvarez couch himself in the power of his office to ensure that he can see through the full resolution of his cases in the Ombudsman against Floirendo Jr.? For now, the Speaker appears well-bolted in his position in the Lower House. So far there is no serious talks of unseating him as Speaker. And he still can count a huge number of allies to thwart any attempt to dislodge him.

However, only a little over one year and a half is left until the next Congressional election. And for him to be able to aspire to stay on the Speakership he has to run for reelection in his district. We are dead certain that this would be the most awaited time for Floirendo Jr. and the TADECO people to bring their fight with Alvarez in the arena where he is most vulnerable.

To quote the late Davao senator Alejandro “Landring” Almendras, “Let us to see.”

Posted in Opinion