Tonyboy named as chairman of Committee on Appointments
BY ROGER M. BALANZA
In a reversal of fortune under the leadership of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Davao del Norte 2nd District Representative Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr. has been named as chairman and vice chairman of two important committees of the House of Representatives.
Floirendo also has been re-installed as member of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA), a position he lost during the stint of former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
Floirendo, defrocked of his committee membership in the CA by Alvarez who was ousted as Speaker by Arroyo in a coup on July 23, is now the chairman of the Committee on Public Works and Highways and vice chairman of the Committee on Energy.
Floirendo was recently sworn in as chairman of the CA by Senate President Tito Sotto; he was given the positions in the public works and highways and energy committees by the House leadership.
Both Floirendo and Alvarez supported the campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte. Floirendo reportedly contributed P70 million to the Duterte presidential run in the 2016 election.
Alvarez, two-time loser in previous elections, has publicly admitted that he won the Davao del Norte First District congressional seat in 2016 with the financial and political support of Floirendo and former governor Rodolfo del Rosario and his son, incumbent Governor Anthony del Rosario.
But Floirendo’s luck under Alvarez was not a bed of roses, marked by “political harassment” by his-long time friend and political ally.
The friendship and political alliance soured shortly after Duterte won the presidency.
Early into his speakership, Alvarez launched a protracted fight against Floirendo after their girlfriends quarreled in public during a festival event in Bacolod City.
On top of removing Floirendo from the CA, Alvarez is also said to have deleted congressional development fund for Floirendo’s district in the general annual budget.
Pushing the fight further, Alvarez also filed a graft charge in the Ombudsman against Floirendo in connection with the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) and the Floirendo-owned Tagum Agricultural Agricultural Development Company (Tadeco).
Alvarez also initiated a House inquiry into the Tadeco-BuCor deal, calling it “unconstitutional and disadvantageous to the government.”
The decades-old JVA, involving an unproductive 5,000ha reservation area of the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol), had been reviewed and approved by the House and the Office of the President.
Tadeco has developed the reservation area into a banana plantation with the government getting a share in production and providing jobs to Dapecol inmates under a successful rehabilitation program.
Alvarez’s fight with Floirendo has created a gloomy fall-out on Alvarez’s reelection bid in the 2019 mid-term election.
Alvarez, the secretary general of the once ruling and now minority party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino/Lakas ng Bansa (PDP/Laban), has organized a bloc called Alvarez Wing as a vehicle for his reelection.
Floirendo, a re-electionist who has teamed up with his cousin Gov. Rosario to frustrate the ex-Speaker’s return to Congress, will be running under the banner of the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP).
HNP is a regional political party organized by Presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio together with the governors of the Davao Region.
In next year’s polls, Alvarez and his Alvarez Wing would not only be up against the formidable machinery of the Floirendo-Del Rosario clan, known for its decades of influence in Davao del Norte’s political landscape.
Mayor Duterte-Carpio has also vowed to campaign against Alvarez’s reelection after the ex-Speaker said HNP is an Opposition party.