Davao del Norte First District Representative Pantaleon Alvarez revealed on Monday, May 28, that two House speaker aspirants were offering money in exchange for the legislators’ votes for the speakership post.
“My colleagues told me that someone offered P500,000 per congressman and then this was countered by another with P1 million per congressman,” Alvarez said as reported by The Manila Times.
“Purposely, hindi ako lumapit doon sa mga funders para mayroon akong ipamigay na P500,000, P1 million (Purposely, I didn’t approach the funders so that I would have P500,000, P1 million to give away),” Alvarez added in an interview for ABS-CBN’s Headstart.
Alvarez refused to name the lawmaker despite his knowledge of the person behind the bribing activities. The ousted former House speaker said that he doesn’t want to compromise the position of the speakership.
“Ayoko nang sabihin kung sino, ano? Pero ang problema kasi diyan, ‘pag gagawin natin ‘yan, we will be compromising the position of the speakership. Mahirap po ‘yan (I don’t want to say who it is, okay? But the problem here is that, if we do this, we will be compromising the position of the speakership. That’s difficult),” he added.
Another lawmaker also denied the accusation of Alvarez regarding bribing fellow legislators to acquire the speakership position. Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco said that he himself would be the one waiting for the bribe instead of shelling out that amount of money.
“No, I’m not giving away a million pesos. Then I’ll be waiting for P1 million for myself. True enough, congressmen, they won’t go for that type of wheeling and dealing just to be able to get the votes. Each congressman has his or her own views. So I mean, I don’t think each congressman can just be bought that easily,” Velasco said as reported by Rappler.
A total of 243 district lawmakers and 61 party-list representatives will convene in the 18th Congress in two months. Should Alvarez’ claim holds up, a speakership candidate resorting to must shell out between P152 million and P304 million if he or she wants all the votes.
Aside from Velasco and Alvarez, there are six other names being floated in the speakership race including Leyte 1st District Representative Martin Romualdez, Pampanga 3rd District Representative Aurelio Gonzales, Davao Oriental 2nd District Representative Joel Almario, Davao City 1st District Representative Paolo Duterte, Taguig City-Pateros Representative Alan Peter Cayetano and Antique Representative Loren Legarda.
However, presidential son Paolo Duterte and outgoing senator Loren Legarda denied interest in the speakership post.
Meanwhile, an incumbent House member condemned the alleged vote-buying by speakership contenders.
“It is disgusting to hear that those aspiring to be Speaker of the House need to shell out money to assure their win,” Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said in a statement.
“How can we promote fair and clean elections if leaders, including the president, tolerate the practice of bribery and vote-buying? How can we attract well-meaning politicians to take part in public service if at the end of the day what matters is money?” he added.