50 years of TADECO, Floirendo legacy vs. Alvarez’s jetmatic pumps and road graveling
QUO VADIS BOTBOT?
A few Jetmatic manual pumps, a few low-power generating sets, a few kilometers of road gravelling projects, a tall promise of multi-million pesos in projects for every barangay captain, credit grabbing of the billion-peso Tagum City fly-over project of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the satellite mini-hospital of the Department of Health (DoH) and the free-irrigation program of President Rodrigo Duterte; credit grabbing of TESDA skills training program and medical assistance to indigents by the Department of Social Welfare and Development Department (DSWD).
Add to that Davao del Norte’s infamy for having hosted the most lavish, expensive and longest birthday celebration by a government official.
Add to that a Napoleonic hallucination that he is the political kingpin of Davao del Norte.
Add to that the Quixotic battle, in the guise of an anti-corruption campaign, to destroy a five-decade old company that helped Davao del Norte become what it is today.
Can these so-called achievements claimed as accomplished in less than two years save a politician from political ignominy?
Will they be enough for a member of the House of Representatives like House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez who represents the First District of Davao del Norte, to be assured of reelection in the 2019 polls?
As a politician infected with the bragging disease locally known as “botbot,” Alvarez has no choice but to blow his horns to get attention. And the votes.
Never mind if people refer to a Congressman Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez as “Congressman Botbot,” or to a Speaker Alvarez as “Loudspeaker Alvarez,” Alvarez has no choice but to brag or promise heaven and do a lot of crazy things.
He has to create situations to be noticed, because Alvarez to most people is an ant, an inconsequential dot in the social, economic and political landscape in Davao del Norte.
He is getting attention, alright, but the kind you expect a politician seeking reelection to dread and hate. But Alvarez does not care.
He is widely talked about with laughter in impromptu joke sessions for his poor attempt to ape President Rodrigo Duterte’s language, grit and brawn.
Behind his back, people gleefully count days when he would be ousted as Speaker.
Even Satan could be laughing, waiting for him, with the Catholic Church confident he would go to hell for his authorship of the divorce bill.
Women despise him for breaking up with his legal wife and bragging he has seven girlfriends.
Even his party mates in the ruling PDP-Laban, of which he is the secretary general, accuse Alvarez of allowing entry of narco-politicians into the party of the President. The war on drugs happens to be President Duterte’s flagship program.
The Alvarez name has become a byword less as Speaker but more as somebody who throws his weight around.
He is getting much attention and derision in his battle against the banana company Tagum Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco), owned by the family of Davao del Norte Second District Congressman Tonyboy Floirendo, his erstwhile friend and political supporter.
By taking on Tadeco and Floirendo, Alvarez is committing political hara-kiri, and his fate is already written in the doomsday wall in so far as 2019 is concerned.
Tadeco and Tonyboy are considered as institutions in Davao del Norte for their long years of involvement in local politics and the economic development of the province. Unlike Alvarez, the people of Davao del Norte values gratitude.
Tadeco since the 60s from the time of its founder, the late industrialist Don Antonio Floirendo, Sr., played key role in the political and economic life of Davao del Norte by providing employment, paying large amount of tax and generating livelihood and business opportunities related to its banana business.
Tadeco, the country’s largest producer and exporter of Cavendish bananas also placed the Philippines, and Davao del Norte, in the map of the world’s banana capitals.
Congressman Floirendo is continuing the Tadeco legacy of service to the people and government and the over-all welfare of the province.
Aside from doling out jetmatic pumps and cheap generating sets, what has Alvarez done for Davao del Norte as Speaker of the House of Representatives?
Alvarez’s over-zealous fanaticism to destroy Tadeco and his former friend Tonyboy has taken a more dangerous direction as he now also wants to destroy the whole banana industry.
Recently Alvarez’s chief of staff, apparently beguiled by his boss being the No. 4 most powerful man in the country, led a team that destroyed bio-security measures at the entrance to the Tadeco plantation thus opening up entry of the deadly Panama Disease into the farm.
Perennial loser in previous elections, Alvarez was saved from a permanent entombment in a political grave by the financial support of Tonyboy in his run for Congress in the 2016 elections.
Snake in the grass is what people call people who bite the arm of their benefactors.
Alvarez has questioned a Congress-approved agreement between Tadeco and the Bureau of Corrections involving the penal reservation of Dapecol. Tadeco developed the once barren reservation area into a banana plantation that provided thousands of jobs and millions of pesos in taxes and share in the produce for government; and gave the company a key role in the penal rehabilitation program by hiring inmates as workers in the banana farm.
The Davao del Norte Provincial Government led by Governor Anthony del Rosario and all its municipalities have come out with a solid opposition to Alvarez, and approved resolutions in support of the Tadeco-BuCor Joint Venture Agreement (JVA).
Alvarez also filed a graft rap against Tonyboy, his former friend and political supporter, in connection with the Tadeco-BuCor deal.
Well, by hitting at his benefactor, Alvarez is merely being true to his character.
Alvarez as the current Speaker of the House unceremoniously removed former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as chair of a House committee after the now Pampanga congresswoman voted against the death penalty bill, a controversial measure pushed by Alvarez. Never mind that GMA during her regime named Alvarez as secretary of transportation, where he made the news for alleged involvement in a scandalous multi-million-peso project of the Manila international airport.
If ouster plots against Alvarez in the House continue to swirl, you cannot fault GMA for it, as there are many other reasons why congressmen want him out.
He has warned congressmen would have zero budget if they would not vote for bills he endorsed.
In Davao del Norte, people of the Second District grieve over the Speaker’s reported removal from the national annual budget of about one billion pesos worth of development projects for their district, all because Tonyboy’s lady friend had a catfight with the Speaker’s girlfriend.
Amid talks of a fat commission, Alvarez said he would spank in public any public official who is against the billion-peso Tagum City flyover project, after Governor Anthony del Rosario said that the project was not consulted with the people.
Speaker Alvarez thinks that, as the No. 4 most powerful man in the country today, he has a franchise to push his weight around, and has no qualms about insulting everybody including presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Alvarez has described as an “opposition” a regional party — Hugpong ng Pagbabago — that Mayor Sara formed together with governors of the Davao Region.
This insult so angered Mayor Sara that she called the Speaker an “asshole” and a liability to the administration of President Duterte. She has vowed to campaign against the congressman’s reelection in 2019.
But Alvarez is unfazed by Mayor Sara’s threat and has in fact boasted that he is forming his own regional line-up to battle it out versus the Hugpong ng Pagbabago slate of the presidential daughter.
Alvarez should remember that being the No. 4 most powerful man in the country is no guarantee he would be back in the House after the 2019 elections.
The old tradition of political patronage of jetmatic pumps, generating sets, road gravelling, credit-grabbing and fat envelopes, proved useless to a former Speaker from Davao City who miserably lost in three mayoral races in failed attempts to capture the Davao City Hall away from the hands of the Dutertes.
Already, Alvarez has made history by becoming the second politician from Davao who became Speaker of the House of Representatives.
He will make another history in the 2019 election: He will be the second Speaker of the House, the No. 4 most powerful man in the country, who would be defeated in a localelection.