Tag Archives: RIGOR ZABALA



In Davao del Norte, reelectionist First District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez and his candidate for Governor are in a stiff fight in the race to the bottom of pre-poll surveys for the coming May election.

pulso survey no. 1
Alvarez, his political stock downed by his ouster in July as Speaker of the House of Representatives and battered by allegations of corruption, was a few points away from Zero in the survey conducted by Pulso Dabaw.
Gubernatorial bet Edwin Jubahib, a virtual unknown and candidate of Alvarez’s “Alvarez Wing” competed with Alvarez in the neck-to-neck race to the bottom of the survey, the first by the Davao Region-based pollster in relation to the 2019 mid-term election.
The survey was conducted during the period January 8-14, 2019 involving 1,200 repondents. Three Pulso Dabaw five-member teams separately generated results of the survey in face-to-face encounters with respondents of voting age in the province (500 respondents), First Congressional District (350 repondents) and Second Congressional District (350 respondents).
In the race for Governor, Rodney del Rosario was picked by 284 repondents or 81 percent against Jubahib’s 59 or 17%. 2% or seven of the respondents were undecided. 
In the First District race, Anthony del Rosario clobbered Alvarez with a high 255 respondents (73%) against the former Speaker who got the nod of a measly 77 or 22%. The undecided numbered 18 repondents (5%).
Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. in the Second District survey, was picked by 322 respondents (92%) with Dujali netting an extremely low 21 (6%), with 7 (2%) in the Undecided bracket.
Rodney del Rosario, a sitting member of the Provincial Board, and younger brother, incumbent Governor Anthony del Rosario are cousins of Floirendo.
sara hugponglogo
The Del Rosarios and Floirendo are running under the banner of the Hugpong Ng Pagbabago (HNP), a regional party organized by presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
Alvarez, Jubahib and Dujali carry the banner of the Alvarez Wing, a local bloc aligned with the PDP/Laban, of which Alvarez is the secretary general.
Jovita Salvador, Pulso Dabaw chief executive officer, said the survey is uncommissioned.
Salvador said it would release soon results of survey conducted during the period January 15-28, which shall include a poll on voters’ preference in the cities of Igacos (Island Garden City of Samal), Tagum and Panabo.
She explained that its first surveys zeroed in on Davao del Norte as it is the only province in the Davao Region where the coming election is “most politically pronounced.”
Salvador said that while there is also a “hot contest’ in the race for Governor in Davao del Sur, candidates for top positions in other provinces (Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental and Davao Occidental) are either reelectionist incumbents backed by Mayor Duterte-Carpio’s HNP or are facing only token opposition.



BEBOT ALVAREZRIGOR ZABALAHouse Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez will “tear apart” any directive issued by the Supreme Court ordering Congress to convene in a joint session to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.

Alvarez also hit at those behind petitions asking the Supreme Court to order Congress to hold the joint session.
‘”“ They should go back to their law books, “ said .Alvarez in response to a question from journalists about the petitions asking  the High Court to compel the House and Senate to convene in a joint session to tackle President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration.
Alvarez says the Supreme Court has no power to compel the House and Senate to a joint session.
But the Speaker did not stop there.
“How can the Supreme Court dictate Congress on what to do? We’re co-equal bodies. I’ll tear apart any directive issued by Supreme Court telling Congress, dictating Congress to convene in a joint session,” warned Alvarez.
moro rebelsPresident Duterte, who declared Martial Law in Mindanao on May 23 following the attack on Marawi City by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorist  groups, is mandated by the Constitution to submit a report to Congress justifying his declaration of Martial Law. The House and Senate did not convene in joint session to discuss the President’s report prompting the filing of the  petitions before the Supreme Court to compel the two legislative bodies, as required by the Constitution, to hold the joint session.
The Supreme Court said that it will consolidate two mandamus petitions filed before the body asking the high court to order the Senate and the House of Representatives to convene in joint session and vote jointly on President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 216 declaring martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.
The Court was to start hearing the petitions next week.
As the matter stands, the Supreme Court has not yet issued a decision or order on whether or not to compel Congress to hold a joint session.
But Alvarez could not contain his mouth. He does not want the Court to decide on the petitions.
The Speaker’s insulting comment  that he would “tear apart” any directive by the Supreme Court compelling Congress to hold the joint session  is a warning to the High Court: keep your hands off the issue. 
Petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court, which has a mandate to tackle legal issues raised before it.
The Speaker wants the Court to  abandon this mandate.
Alvarez said that the High Court cannot impose its decision on the legislature and has no power to compel the House and Senate to hold a joint session to discuss President Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law.
Alvarez’s logic is off tangent. The joint session is mandated by the Constitution.
President Duterte has assured that Proclamation 216 declaring Martial Law in Mindanao would address violence imposed by terrorists, particularly on Marawi City, assuring the public that the limited martial rule would not be like the Marcos martial law.
This explanation from the President apparently did not sink on the Speaker’s gray matter.
He thinks Proclamation 216 is not limited to Mindanao, gave dictatorial powers to the House and its Speaker to question the power and authority of other branches of  government like  the Supreme Court.
The Speaker said the Court would be “dictating” on Congress if it agrees to the petitions to compel Congress into holding a joint session to tackle Proclamation 216.
But who is acting like a dictator?
“How can the Supreme Court dictate Congress on what to do? We’re co-equal bodies. I’ll tear apart any directive issued by Supreme Court telling Congress, dictating Congress to convene in a joint session,” the Speaker said.
Alvarez also warned that the petitions could precipitate a constitutional crisis if a clash over the issue of compelling Congress to convene a joint session would ensue between Congress and the Supreme Court.
What is wrong with Congress holding a joint session on President Duterte’s Martial Law.
After all, the Speaker has been saying that majority of Senators and Congressmen support the President’s declaration.
The scenario of the declaration being revoked by Congress or its extension if President Duterte ask for it is denied, is farfetched.
So what crisis is Alvarez talking about?
There is going to be a  crisis if the Speaker of the House of Representatives insults  and defies the Supreme Court. Alvarez has already created one by challenging the authority and power of the Supreme Court. He insulted the highest court of the land by saying that he would tear apart any order by the Supreme Court compelling Congress to hold a joint session.
President Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao is working perfectly for the civilians and against the terrorists and other elements planning to sow violence in Mindanao.
No harassment. Except from Alvarez, a Mindanaoan, who is harassing the Supreme Court.
President Duterte said that if there is a need, coverage of Martial Law may be extended to th Visayas and Luzon.
We suggest that the coverage should include a prohibition on high government officials, like Speaker Alvarez, to insult and defy other branches of government and its officials.
mauteLike the Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists who challenge President Duterte and his administration, government officials who challenge the authority and power of other branches of government create mayhem and are threats to peace and order. RIGOR ZABALA

A snake in the grass

taerigor-zabalaBeing “immoral” is only one of the many “sins” of Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.

pantaleon-alvarezHe is accused of breaking up the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino (PDP), the party that helped propel former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the Presidency in the 2016 election with his “dictatorial” attitude in muscling members of the House of Representatives into voting for controversial bills, without thinking.
He ran head-on with Duterte over the impeachment of Vice President Leni Robredo.
He had no qualms about bragging in public in this Catholic-dominant nation that he has two other women aside from his wife and siring a total of 8 children.
In his congressional base in Davao del Norte’s First District, people sneer at him as a “snake in the grass” who bit the hand of those behind his dramatic rise from his dead politics to become one of the highest officials of the country.
Alvarez has filed with Ombudsman graft charges against political ally and longtime friend Davao del Norte First District Congressman Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo, Jr. in connection with the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) signed between the Floirendo-owned Tagum Development Corporation (Tadeco) and the Bureau (BuCor) involving more than 5,000 hectares of the Davao Penal Colony (Dapecol) in Sto. Tomas town in Davao del Norte.
Alvarez alleged that Floirendo was a sitting congressman and did not divest of his interest in Tadeco at the time of the signing of the JVA in 2013.
Alvarez also said the JVA was disadvantageous to the government, with Tadeco paying only P5,000 per hectare of the land it used in growing export Cavendish bananas.
Tadeco is a prioneering banana growing and exporting company founded by the late Don Antonio Floirendo, Sr., Tonyboy’s father.
Tadeco made the once economically-dormant Davao del Norte as the country’s banana capital and placed the Philippines in the map of the world’s top banana exporting countries.
Tadeco and the Floirendos were and still are a factor in Davao del Norte which helped politicians. Bringing back Alvarez to life from his political grave is one benevolent act that the Floirendos have done.
It is generally agreed in Davao del Norte that Alvarez was resurrected from his dead politics, which slept in limbo for more than a decade, by Floirendo who backed his congressional bid in the 2016 election.
Alvarez had been considered as “politically dead” after a single term in Congress from 1998 to 2001, and as Secretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In the 2016 election, Alvarez joined the  presidential band wagon of Duterte, of which Floirendo was a major  campaign contributor. He would be elected as House Speaker with the support of Floirendo and Duterte and the PDP.
In his complaint against Florendo, Alvarez said Tadeco is cheating the government in the Tadeco-Dapecol JVA deal, which was actually approved by Congress.
Is the Speaker clean?
Alvarez’s  stint with DoTC was marked with a plunder rap with the Ombudsman involving a company partly- owned by his wife which undertook a project at the Manila  International Airport Authority(MIAA).
The MIAA-NAIA Association of Service Contractors (MASO) filed in 2001 a plunder case  against Alvarez and other officials  for alleged anomaly in the award without public bidding of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract to Philippine International Air Terminals Co Inc (Piatco). At the time, Alvarez was the MIAA senior assistant general manager.   
According to a report by Newsbreak in 2001, Alvarez’s wife Emelita owned 33% of Wintrack Builders Inc, a company that supposedly profited from an excess of P76.49 million ($1.64 million) from excavation work it did with Piatco.
Duterte has asked the leadership of the House of Representatives not to proceed with the impeachment case filed against Robredo. Alvarez said, No, we will proceed. Is power getting into the head of the Speaker that he now wants to collide head-on with the President?
The Death Penalty Bill no matter how controversial would have passed no matter the loud noises from the opposition, because it had presidential backing. There was no need for dictator Alvarez to railroad its passage with threats of expulsion from the party or removal from committee chairmanship if a congressman would not vote for approval of the bill.
Alvarez brags that he could not care less if he loses the Speakership.
The frustration at the House over his leadership is loud and clear and the air points to that direction.
In the meantime, let us wait for the House ethics committee to summon Alvarez over his love affairs. Morality is a treasured principle of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Supreme Court and we would not be surprised if one of these days, Alvarez would be defrocked as a lawyer by disbarment for immorality.
Whether Alvarez is dislodged as House Speaker or if he loses his license as a lawyer, or in a worst case scenario is thrown out of Duterte’s circle, the people of Davao del Norte who voted him to office would not care.
Rightly so. For who needs a snake in the grass?

BANGLADESH AMBASSADOR GOMES: Half of Filipinas are prostitutes



Philippine womanhood has reaped its biggest insult from no less than a diplomat who claimed that half of Filipinas are “prostitutes.”

As newly-minted Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to snag the biggest drug lord in the country, he might be interested to know that he could have a prized catch in a foreigner, and a diplomat, at that, under his iron-first anti-criminality campaign.


It is not rare that we often read reports about Bangladeshis being collared in foreign shores for drug trafficking but Bangladesh Ambassador to the Philippines John Gomes may not, however,  be a drug lord. But he has other sins to Filipinos that should merit the attention of the President. Gomes to us is a “criminal.”

More than 600 suspected drug dealers have died in the hands of police since Duterte and PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa launched the anti-criminality campaign that focused on illegal drug dealing and use.

We would not suggest Gomes be on that list of dead victims. His sin is not about drugs.

His sin is about women and abusing them.

Women abuse is a crime in this country, is it not?

So Gomes might as well be labeled a “criminal” and in the radar of criminals under Duterte’s anti-crminality campaign fit to be dumped in the New Bilibid Prison in the company of drug lords.

Alex Magno, in his column First Person titled Undiplomatic (Philippine Star,  August 6, 2016), unmasked Gomes’ dark, hidden persona, his disdain for Filipinos and the uncouth manner he treats Filipino workers in his embassy.

What are Gomes’ sins?

He once made the claim that half of Filipinas were “prostitutes.”

He has described former president Noynoy Aquino as the most stupid president in the world.

He also said Filipinos are “thieves.”

Gomes could not be sent to jail for describing former President Benigno Aquino as the most stupid president, him having no franchise over the opinion.

But Gomes’ other sins should merit him  the presidential anger and inclusion in the hate list of President Duterte that counts drug lords, kidnappers, rapists, terrorists, grafters, human traffickers, etc., etc.

Gomes desecrated Pinoy womanhood by saying half of Filipinas are “prostitutes.” He also harassed Pinoy womanhood in the person of a Filipina staff at the Bangladesh embassy through his foul language and by thievery.

In effect, the honorable ambassador violated the country’s laws on respect for women. That is criminal!

Magno wrote:

“A couple of years ago, a Filipina employee who served at the embassy of Bangladesh for nearly two decades filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The complaint was for illegal dismissal as well as a claim for benefits denied her.|

“The NLRC ruled in favor of the Filipina. Lawyers for the Bangladesh embassy, however, claim the diplomatic outpost was immune from suit.”

“The complainant, Alona T. Contridas, has elevated the matter to our Court of Appeals. This is a significant case because it covers the rights of Filipino staff working for foreign embassies in the country.”

“Contridas worked as a cleaner in the embassy. She was later promoted to messenger, with a monthly salary of P17,000.”

“Even after her promotion, Gomes instructed her to report earlier for work to perform cleaning duties in the embassy before office hours. The reason for that, it turns out, was that the person to do the cleaning was made to report to the ambassador’s home to do cleaning, laundry and cooking duties.”

“All the while, a monthly salary of P15,000 was due her. But Ambassador Gomes paid her only P12,000.  Each month, it turns out, the ambassador skims P3,000 from his embassy’s lowliest employee.”

Magno further wrote that Gomes once threw the trash before the Filipino staff.

“He routinely called Filipino “thieves” and once made the claim half of Filipinas were “prostitutes.” In a most undiplomatic way, he describes former president Noynoy Aquino as the most stupid president in the world.”

Gomes had Contreras removed from the embassy staff two years ago.

“Contridas wrote the Bangladesh prime minister complaining of the ambassador’s tyrannical behavior towards the staff. She specifically complained about the ambassador skimming from the salaries of Filipino employees,” wrote Magno.

She also informed then President Aquino about the demeaning remarks the ambassador was making about Filipinos in general and the president  in particular.

Having called Filipinos as “thieves,” we would not be surprised if Gomes repeats the same when he had too many drinks with his friends in the diplomatic corps.

Which should bring us to the case of the $81 million hacked from the Bank of Bangladesh which landed in Philippine Banks.

Gomes is bullying the Philippines government to immediately return surrendered part of the filched amount even as the Senate has yet to complete its investigation on the money laundering scandal.

He believes Filipinos were behind the heist. That is why he says Filipinos are thieves. But the Bangladesh finance minister says the hacking was completely an inside job. It happened because the Bank of Bangladesh failed to adequately protect itself from hackers or worse, allowed a conspiracy from within that bank. (Read more in Magno)

So what to do with a scum like Gomes?

Gomes wants the Bank of Bangladesh scandal resolved and the hacked money returned to Bangladesh before his ambassadorial watch in the Philippines ends.

Before he goes back home to Bangladesh, Filipinos should make this persona non grata answer for his crime.



 robredo aquino

The Comelec had been mum on the Robredo case for years more so at the time she was mentioned as Aquino’s pick for vice president. Did Aquino tell Comelec to throw the Robredo case into the dust bin?



LIBERAL Party vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo may not be able to sit as vice president even if she wins in May if the Commission on Election (Comelec) finds her to have   illegally solicited and accepted campaign funds from foreign donors.

robredo crying

Robredo, in fact, could  have been already in jail and could not be campaigning as she does today for her vice presidential bid.

But Robredo is free, thanks to the Comelec which has not acted on a three-year old twin complaints which  charged the Camarines Sur representative of having received donations from 10 foreign contributors in the 2013 congressional race.

Do we see the hand of President Benigno Aquino, the chair of the Liberal Party, in this apparently deliberate  act by Comelec not to decide on the complaints against Robredo? We can only speculate given the fact  that Robredo is the ruling party’s bet for the vice presidency.

Without any takers, it took the Liberal Party too long to find a running mate to its standard bearer Mar Roxas.

At the end of the day, the ruling party picked Robredo even as she is facing charges for violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

The Comelec had been mum on the Robredo case for years more so at the time she was mentioned as Aquino’s pick for vice president. Did Aquino tell Comelec to throw the Robredo case into the dust bin?

Receiving campaign donations from foreigners is a violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

The Comelec has yet to decide on the two separate cases filed against Robredo in 2013 by former Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Villafuerte and his wife Nelly.

Nelly Villafuerte ran but lost to Robredo in the 2013 Camarines Sur congressional derby.

The cases have sat in limbo  since the filing of the two cases shortly after the May 9, 2013 election.

Had the Comelec decided to give merit to the complaints of violation of the Omnibus Election Code, Robredo would have been disqualified to run for vice president in the 2016 election.

Nelly Villafuerte lamented that had the Comelec filed the case in court and found Robredo guilty, she would have been disqualified from holding public office and could have also served jail time.

But the woes of Robredo may not be over. The Villafuertes said they will pursue the case and prod Comelec to make a decision that kick out Robredo if she wins the vice presidential race.

The complaints against Robredo showed that she solicited and received campaign donations from at least seven American nationals, among them Loida Nicolas Lewis, and three American entities, said a report in The Standard.

According to Nelly Villafuerte who filed the first complaint, posts in Robredo’s social media account that detailed her contributors who were natural-born Americans or naturalized Americans, were among evidence that backed the complaints.

Among Robredo’s foreign donors were Edward Seidel, a natural-born American married to a Filipina, Lorna, who has also acquired her US citizenship; lawyer Rodel Rodis, the first Filipino-American to win an elective post in the United States; Robert Federigan; Robert Heiberger; Rainier Asprer; and Richard Sublett.

Nelly Villafuerte said that Robredo also named at least three foreign entities which contributed to her campaign: The Unlimited Agency, Inc., which was registered as a corporation on March 17, 1994 with registration no. 57729554 in the state of Illinois, USA; The Bicol USA of the Midwest, which was registered as a corporation in the State of Illinois, USA on Feb. 11, 2011, with registration no. 67779959; and Fundrazr, a website used to raise funds from anonymous donors abroad.

Fundrazr, is reportedly the flagship product of a company called Connection Point Systems, a privately owned and funded Canadian company, Villafuerte said.

Nelly Villafuerte also presented as proof the receipts of the donation from the foreign individuals and entities that were acknowledged by Robredo in her Facebook account.

The second complaint was filed by Luis Villafuerte, who accused Robredo of not reporting to the Comelec the names of those who actually contributed to her campaign fund.

Robredo executed a counter-affidavit disowning Lewis as her agent to solicit campaign funds but admitted Lewis turned over to her Lewis’ personal contributions and that no other contributions came from other foreign donors.

Robredo also denied knowledge of the existence of her own website and that it was only created under her name.

The Villafuertes said Lewis was born a Filipino but was an American citizen when she made her donation to Robredo, who thus violated the Omnibus Election Code.




War drums are being banged as supporters of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte denounce results of poll surveys consistently showing the Mindanaoan presidential candidate behind the other contenders.


The frustration is loudest in Mindanao bordering on warnings of rebellion.

standardTaking to social media to warn of island-wide revolution against the saboteurs and the Manila government, Duterte supporters flooding Facebook with comments said the pre-poll surveys were manipulated to favor other candidates in the May 2016 elections.



The warning is not new.

In a show of force, Mindanao political leaders earlier warned a split with the central government is inevitable if Duterte is cheated and does not win the May 2016 elections.

But will a Mindanao revolution have enough punch to shock Manila?

The firepower could just be sitting in the corner awaiting marching orders. Mindanaoans – Christians, Muslims and lumads – would love to see their umbilical cord cut from Manila.

roxas aquino sssThe administration of President Benigno Aquino will be leaving in June with a legacy bereft of concern for peace in Mindanao.

The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), seen as a solution to the Moro problem, has been thrown to the backburner.

Malacanang has closed the door to talks with the leftist National Democratic Front Philippines (NDFP), whose armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) has a heavy presence in many areas of Mindanao.  

The Moro problem and the communist insurgency in Mindanao are monkeys riding on the back of the Philippine government for decades.

No President has solved the chaos and violence that have killed thousands of lives, displaced millions and hindered the growth of the southern island.

Duterte has emerged to be the knight in shining armor who could help realize the Mindanaoans’ hope for peace and progress considered inconsequential concerns, through their incompetence and simple lack of  heart for the people of Mindanao, by those in power in Malacanang and Congress.

Duterte, a leading figure in the search for peace in troubled Mindanao, has the support of the Moro rebel groups Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the communist rebels. Christian settlers and lumads have also rallied behind the Duterte presidency.

Duterte has also gained wide adherents to his advocacy for a shift from the present presidential to a federal-type of government.

Federalism would provide regional governments with greater powers including bigger share from taxes and revenue from natural resources.

Mindanao and other provinces, for years at the bottom of the priority list of the centrist Manila government, have shown support to Duterte’s advocacy for federalism that he said he would pursue if elected President.

Federalism, as espoused by Duterte, could be the answer to the Moro and the communist insurgency problems in Mindanao.

Mindanaoans are edgy over suspicion the Duterte presidency would be sabotaged because their future is at stake in the coming election.

Today Mindanaoans love federalism as they hate the dreadful prospect of not seeing Duterte not winning the presidency.

DOGONG SCIn a political forum recently, Duterte urging support for his presidential bid said he is the ‘last card’ of the Filipinos to save the country from perdition.

Amid widespread suspicion that Duterte’s impending presidency is being derailed by saboteurs including operators of pre-poll surveys, will revolution be the Mindanaoans’ last card to save Mindanao?