MANILA, Philippines — Facing arrest over a graft case filed against him by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. on Wednesday said he would clear his name in court.
He also appealed to his accuser, his erstwhile buddy, not to exert “undue influence” over the court and claimed that Alvarez was after him because of the Speaker’s alleged personal interest in the banana business.
“The hasty filing of graft charges against me before the Sandiganbayan and the subsequent issuance of the warrant of arrest in connection with the Bucor-Tadeco deal is a clear sign of the existence of abuse of power and arrogance on the part of the Speaker,” Floirendo said in a statement.
“I am ready to face this case as this will give the opportunity to clear my name. My only hope is for the Speaker to insulate the courts from his established brand of maneuvering and undue influence,” he added.
Floirendo said Alvarez’s move was not only political, “but a veiled attempt at grabbing the deal for his business and personal interest.”
“Despite such setback, I maintain my faith in our justice system because I have not done anything wrong. In the end, I am confident that I will prevail because the truth is on my side,” he said.
Asked to react to Floirendo’s statement, Alvarez advised his colleague to “stop making empty comments” and just concentrate on his case.
On Wednesday, February 21, the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court ordered the arrest of Floirendo over a graft complaint filed by Alvarez linked to the deal between banana grower Tagum Development Corp. and the Bureau of Corrections.
Alvarez and Floirendo, whose family-owned firm is the largest banana producer in the country and was the largest contributor to the campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte, had a falling out early 2017, reportedly because of a spat between their respective partners. Both men are married but are openly seen with their respective girlfriends, who supposedly had a quarrel. President Duterte, a friend of both men, later said that he has ascertained the two politicians’ feud did not stem from a quarrel over women.
Alvarez alleged that Floirendo had committed graft when Tadeco signed an amended agreement with Bucor on May 21, 2003 to use a landholding within the Davao Penal Colony for a banana plantation. At the time, Floriendo was serving as representative of Davao del Norte and also directly owned 75,000 shares in Tadeco.
He also owned 537,950 shares of Anflo Management and Investment Corporation, the listed parent company of Tadeco, in which it also owns 4,730,000 shares with a subscription cost of P473 million.
Floirendo argued that, aside from being a public officer in 2003, the other elements of his alleged offense were not established as he did not have any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in the 2003 agreement between Bucor and Tadeco.
He maintained that the more than three decades deal between the Bucor and Tadeco benefitted thousands of inmates and their families, and that the deal was “valid and legal.”