The real scandal in the Alvarez-Floirendo dispute | Inquirer Opinion

The real scandal in the Alvarez-Floirendo dispute

/ 12:12 AM April 20, 2017

Scandal in the House,” Solita Monsod’s April 1 Inquirer column, correctly defines “scandal” as “a state of affairs regarded as wrong or reprehensible and causing general public outrage or anger.”

But I think Monsod lacked a sense of proportion in lumping together the controversies
involving House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Davao del Norte Rep. Tonyboy Floirendo as a “scandal.”

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Why so? Alvarez has filed graft charges against Floirendo for allegedly defrauding the government of billions of pesos through a 25-year contract between Floirendo’s Tagum Development Corporation (Tadeco) and the Bureau of Corrections (Bucor). The contract was signed in 2003 for the lease of a total of 5,300 hectares of land for just P26.5 million per year, resulting in lost revenues for the government, amounting to an astronomical P20 billion.

There was no bidding for the contract, Alvarez said, and the BuCor’s share of the proceeds from the sale of bananas produced by Tadeco was pegged a laughably low P1.35 per box, when a box of bananas was sold by Tadeco at $12 or P600 FOB to China and other markets, per box.

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Floirendo, from Alvarez’s complaint, appears to be a rather shrewd businessman, if we’re to believe the Speaker’s complaint.

But there’s one other aspect of the case that’s worth noting. At the time the contract was signed, Floirendo was already a congressman, and should have divested his shares in Tadeco. In other words, there’s a conflict of interest here that no less than our Constitution frowns upon.

“What’s wrong with Alvarez’s actions? Nothing.” That’s a point raised by Monsod, and she’s absolutely right.

The real scandal, per Alvarez’s complaint, is a public official fleecing the government of billions of pesos from an onerous contract.

To equate this on the same level as the revelation that both members of the House have girlfriends is to trivialize the plunder issue. I expected a more sober analysis by Monsod, and that’s really sad.

ANGELO ALAPITAN,
[email protected]

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TAGS: Alvarez-Floirendo, Davao del Norte Rep. Tonyboy Floirendo, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, scandal, Solita Monsod
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