House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez belied allegations made by reelected Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez that two of his fellow contenders for speakership have supposedly dangled cash at lawmakers in a bid to secure votes.
“Wala! Speculation lang yan (None! That is only speculation),” Suarez stressed during the regular Minority bloc press briefing at the House of Representatives.
The veteran Quezon lawmaker added that he does not think that vote-buying happens during the race for speakership, saying such irresponsible allegations demean the House as an institution.
To prove his point, he pointed out Alvarez’s own experience when the latter ran for the House’s top post.
Alvarez was Speaker of the 17th Congress until he was ousted from the position by former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“Naging Speaker s’ya (Alvarez), namili ba? Nagkaroon ng breakaway, umupo si GMA (Arroyo). Namili ba si GMA? Wala naman! (He became Speaker, did he buy votes? There was a breakaway, GMA became Speaker. Did she buy votes? There was none!)” Suarez stressed.
“Papaano tayo magsasabi niyan na nabibili mo ang boto ng congressmen (How could we say then that congressmen’s votes can be bought)?” he added.
Without dropping names, Alvarez claimed Tuesday that a contender for the Speakership supposedly offered PHP500,000 per congressman.
The offer was allegedly countered by another camp with PHP1 million per congressman.
Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco, one of those aspiring for the Speakership, has denied bribing lawmakers to support him.
Meanwhile, the Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI), the second largest voting bloc in the House, also belied Alvarez’s claims, saying that no one from their group has been offered money to support a candidate for Speaker.
Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr., a member of the group’s board of trustees, said that such gimmickry “cheapens the position of the speakership.”
Beside Alvarez and Velasco, other top aspirants for the Speakership are come-backing Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and former Foreign Affairs Secretary and Taguig 1st District Representative-elect Alan Peter Cayetano.
Outgoing Senator and Antique Representative-elect Loren Legarda has previously expressed intention to run for Speaker but has reportedly backed out to seek the chairmanship post of a key House panel. (PNA)
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