PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday defended Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, whose extramarital affair was revealed last week amid a feud with Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio “Tonyboy” Floirendo Jr.
Echoing Alvarez, Duterte dismissed the flak that went the way of the House speaker, saying extramarital affairs were common among politicians.
“Sino ba’ng walang kaligayahan [Who isn’t entitled to happiness?] Ask these lawmakers, how many of them have two, three or four wives? Ask them!” Duterte said in Cagayan de Oro where he visited wounded soldiers.
“As for gays, how many men do they have? Making a big deal out of it is such a hypocrisy,” he added.
Duterte, whose marriage to Elizabeth Zimmerman was annulled by a civil court in 2000, has also made no bones about his own extramarital affairs.
He famously quipped that he brought two wives during his Malacañang oath-taking on June 30 last year – Zimmerman and his current partner Honeylet Avanceña, with whom he has a 12-year-old daughter, Kitty.
Pre-empting possible cases against him, Alvarez, a lawyer, said last week: “If they will seek my disbarment because of a girlfriend, then go ahead, file a complaint. Well, we might run out of lawyers here. Sino ba’ng walang girlfriend? [Who doesn’t have a girlfriend]?”
The House speaker, who has four children with wife Emelita Apostol-Alvarez, made the admission as he sought to keep the focus on the graft complaint he had filed against Floirendo over a land deal involving the latter’s banana firm Tagum Agricultural Development Corp.
Alvarez’s affair with a certain Jennifer Maliwanag Vicencio was outed by Floirendo’s partner, Cathy Binag, who claimed that the graft case was the result of a personal feud between the pro-Duterte lawmakers.
Binag reportedly had a fight with Vicencio during the Masskara Festival in Bacolod City last year.
Floirendo, himself estranged from his wife Margarita Moran, the 1973 Miss Universe, is Duterte’s top campaign donor, contributing P75 million to the President’s 2016 campaign.
The President did not say if he was willing to be the peacemaker, but clarified that Alvarez and Floirendo were at odds not because of their women.
“The women are in a bad atmosphere but they are fighting not because of them. It’s a man,” Duterte said, without elaborating.