MANILA, Philippines – Is Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez being eased out as House leader in favor of a neophyte?
This appears to be the case – at least in the minds of several lawmakers – after Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco “sent invitations” to fellow lawmakers to attend a birthday party that he would sponsor for President Duterte tomorrow at Hotel Sofitel in Pasay City.
President Duterte turned 73 last March 28, Holy Wednesday.
Rumors of Alvarez’s possible ouster as speaker first emerged after he had a falling – out with presidential daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Coincidentally, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, another key ally of Duterte in the chamber, will celebrate her birthday tomorrow. Alvarez had her removed as deputy speaker for voting against the bill to re-impose the death penalty for heinous crimes.
Velasco’s father is senior Supreme Court Justice Presbitero Velasco, who is set to retire in August when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 for magistrates in the judiciary.
The young Velasco, in his early 40s, celebrated his birthday in November 2017 inside the Malacañang complex in San Miguel, Manila – probably the only government official in the Duterte administration to have enjoyed such privilege.
Sources said the long break during the Holy Week might explain the belated birthday party.
Incidentally, there have also been reports of Ms. Arroyo taking over Alvarez’s position, and Velasco replacing Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas as House majority leader.
Both Alvarez and Fariñas did not reply to reporters’ queries about the rumored transition.
House members revealed the invites were given to them before Congress’ March 23 adjournment. Others disclosed that a powerful political party allied with Duterte sponsored a lunch that was also attended by Velasco. -Source and courtesy of Delon Porcalla, The Philippine Star