'Retire a champion', ex-Speaker Alvarez tells Duterte as duo's political alliance crumbles

“Retire a champion!”

This advise from former Speaker and incumbent Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez is neither meant for 2021 Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz nor eight-division boxing champion Senator Manny Pacquiao.

Duterte with Alvarez

Alvarez offered this counsel to President Rodrigo Duterte who has revealed plans to run for vice president in the 2022 national elections.

“Ngayon champion na eh, so mas maganda iyong retired champion ka (He is already a champion, its best you retire a champion)” stated Alvarez when asked in a radio interview to comment on Duterte’s reported 2022 plans to seek the vice presidency.

Alvarez said he still considers the chief executive a friend but confessed that their political partnership that brought them to political power in 2016 might see its end when the nation elects Duterte’s replacement next year.

“Siyempre, dahil meron naman akong ibang kandidato na sinsuportahan sa pagkapangulo (Of course, because I now have another candidate to support for president),” he said.

The former speaker said he is bound to follow his current political party’s decision to support Senator Panfilo Lacson as its president, thus, he will no longer be in Duterte’s corner should he run or field a team that will oppose Alvarez’s choice.

Catapulted to the speakership when Duterte rose to power in 2016, Alvarez has distanced himself from the president after being ousted from the top Lower House leadership and replaced by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during the 17th Congress.

With presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte being suspected as the brains behind Alvarez’s ouster, the former speaker soon bolted the PDP-Laban party that has President Duterte as chairman.

Mayor Duterte has yet to formally declare her presidential bid but her Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP) party has already readied coalition agreements with four national political parties in preparation for the 2022 polls.

From being secretary general of PDP-Laban, the former House official swiftly joined and reactivated the Partido Reporma, founded by former Defense Secretary Renato De Villa, as party president..

Reporma has declared support for a presidential bid of Senator Panfilo Lacson, who was sworn in its chairman. This meant, the party will also back the vice presidential bid Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Lacson’s declared runningmate.

“Nagkasundo na kami na ang standard bearer ng party, kandidato sa pagkapangulo ay si Sen. Ping Lacson. Tapos iyong aming susuportahan bilang vice president ay si Senator Tito Sotto (We have agreed that the party’s standard bearer, the candidate for president is Sen. Ping Lacson. Then we will support Senator Tito Sotto as vice president),” explained Alvarez.

Despite these political developments, Alvarez said he should not be considered as a member of the opposition.

“Sana hwag naman maging parang ang dating ay oposisyon na medyo mainit. Sa akin naman ay gusto kong dalhin iyong level ng kampanya sa legitimate issues. (I hope i will not be seen like a hardline oppositionist. I merely want to bring the campaign to a level that will take up legitimate issues).,
the Mindanaoan lawmaker stated.