By Ellson Quismorio
He denied knowing anything about the ouster plot against House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, but gave a mysterious grin.
Davao del Norte 2nd district Rep. Antonio “Tony Boy” Floirendo gave this reaction Monday when confronted by reporters regarding the alleged coup d’etat against Alvarez, his friend turned enemy.
“Wala akong alam dyan (I don’t know anything about that),” Floirendo said as he failed to shake off journalists on his way inside an elevator at the South Wing Annex of the House of Representatives.
The so-called “Banana King” however gave a big smile and admitted that he had gotten wind of the alleged ouster move that became the big rumor during the morning of President Rodrigo Duterte’s scheduled State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“I heard about it,” he said, grinning from ear-to-ear.
Floirendo and Alvarez–the province’s 1st district congressman–used to be friends and party mates over at Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban). However, a very personal falling out between the two led to Floirendo being kicked out of the ruling party.
Rumors of Alvarez’s ouster began as early as six months into his tenure as Speaker in 2016, with the former president and current Pampanga 2nd district Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo being floated as a replacement.
Floirendo, a billionaire thanks to his lucrative banana empire, became the top donor of then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s 2016 presidential campaign, contributing P75 million in cash.
Alvarez had led a House inquiry on the alleged illegalities of Floirendo’s business in the past.
The South Wing Annex was also the site of an all-member caucus Monday before the resumption of sessions at 10 a.m.Some 50 solons attended the closed-door meeting.
One of the attendees, Deputy Speaker Gwen Garcia of Cebu’s 3rd district, confirmed that the ouster rumor was discussed.
“It was touched upon very briefly [during the caucus], but it was a…yun lang naman eh (that is all),” she told reporters.
Asked if she would still support the Speaker, Garcia said, “That’s on the floor, that will be decided by each of the congressmen kung kakailanganin (if needed), if there will be…I’m sure may mag-oobject (someone will object) if there would be a move to oust the Speaker.”
“It’s all about each congressman’s take on how this present Congress is being led,” the lady lawmaker said, although she claimed that “we were of one mind that this has been really the most productive Congress yet and of course you have to attribute that to the leadership.”