“Let’s choose a President who can handle this COVID situation. One who has brains and not just one who shows courage. We need someone who has brains,” Alvarez said in mixed Bisaya and English over his radio program titled, “CPDA Aksyon Agad!”
Alvarez is known to many as President Duterte’s longtime friend and staunch ally. He is also the current secretary-general of ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which Duterte chairs.
A PDP-Laban solon told the Manila Bulletin Sunday that Alvarez’s comments in the radio interview, dated August 28, 2020, has surprised House members given the amiable history between the two Dabawenyos.
In the 35-minute interview the congressman openly criticized the way the government has addressed the COVID-19 pandemic. “Let’s admit it. The handling of the COVID pandemic in the entire Philippines is a failure.”
Alvarez said the Philippines continues to post high numbers of COVID positive cases, unlike other countries. “So there’s a problem, something is wrong in handling the problem,” he added.
He warned that the country will face “big problems” in the immediate future, thus the need to elect capable leaders come the 2022 national polls, which is just around the corner. He even noted that the filing of certificates of candidacy begins as early as October next year.
“It is not yet clear when this COVID will end and there is no medicine yet. This will cross over to the next administration, that’s why we need to choose a President who is knowledgeable,” Alvarez told listeners of his program.
“Another problem is the economy. The people are unemployed, businesses have closed down, and OFWs are coming home jobless. The President must know how to revive these businesses,” he said.
The former Speaker also reckoned that the next Chief Executive must have the “balls” to address a potential war in the Pacific between the United States (US) and China, which would have implications on Philippine security.
“There are about 200 American battleships in the Pacific. We will be caught in this conflict because we are near China. The President must be capable of handling the situation. He must have balls. The President must have a clear stance,” said Alvarez, who never mentioned Duterte’s name in the interview.
Alvarez was arguably the President’s most important ally in the legislature during the latter’s first two years in Malacañang.
Then, on July 23, 2018, the day of Duterte’s third State of the Nation Address, a majority of the sitting House members ousted Alvarez in a coup d’etat. Taking his place was then Pampanga 2nd district representative, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.