Like the late magician Harry Houdini, a Hungarian-born American illusionist and stunt performer noted for his sensational escape acts, Davao del Norte’s First District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez has become a no-show in Davao del Norte, after President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio endorsed the bids of top bets of the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HnP).
Alvarez is seeking reelection in the May 13 polls under the banner of the Alvarez Wing, a faction of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino/Lakas ng Bayan (PDP/Laban). Alvarez is secretary general of the ruling PDP/Laban, which is headed by President Duterte.
Being party mates, the President was supposed to endorse the candidacy of Alvarez, who was ousted as Speaker of the House of Representatives in a coup in July 2018. But on the night of January 28, in Villamor Air Base, President Duterte, after a meeting with US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, together with Mayor Duterte-Carpio endorsed DavNor Governor Anthony del Rosario who is challenging the reelection of Alvarez. Also endorsed by the President and Sara were HnP candidates 2nd District Rep. Tonyboy Floirendo Jr. (running against Vice Gov. Alan Dujali (Alvarez Wing), and Board Member Rodney del Rosario versus Edwin Dujali (Alvarez Wing). The endorsement was documented by photos of the President and Sara raising the hands of Floirendo and the Del Rosarios. The HnP, a regional political party formed by Sara, is fielding a full slate against the Alvarez Wing. The presidential endorsement for the HnP bets came days after Alvarez joined the PDP/Laban campaign rally launch for the party’s senatorial bets in Laguna where he reportedly failed to get President Duterte’s nod. The Philippine Daily Inquirer said it tried to connect with Alvarez and his office for reaction to the presidential endorsement of his rivals. The broadsheet in a report said Alvarez and his staff did not respond to text messages and request made through their Facebook accounts. Sources said that Alvarez has not made his presence felt in the province for about a month now, saying pre-campaign period activities of the Alvarez Wing are now being led by his gubernatorial bet Jubahib. The sources said that Alvarez also was a no-show when massive floods hit the province early February and left the task of distributing relief goods to affected families to Jubahib. Earlier, President Duterte said he has now left to his daughter decisions on the Duterte family’s political plans. Alvarez’s reelection is facing stormy weather. He will not only contend with the powerhouse machinery of the Floirendo and Del Rosario tandem. Sara has also vowed to campaign against Alvarez’s return to Congress. She had called the then Speaker an “asshole” and vowed to campaign against his reelectn after Alvarez called the HnP as an “opposition party.” Sara is reported as having played key role in the ouster of Alvarez as House Speaker.