"Diyos ko naman. Kayo naman, sino bang walang girlfriend (My God, come on. Who doesn't have a girlfriend)?"
This was one of the statements uttered by House Speaker Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez—who represents the 1st District of Davao del Norte—when reporters asked him about the now-infamous "girlfriends issue."
War of the girlfriends
There are allegations that an altercation between Alvarez's girlfriend Jennifer Maliwanag Vicencio and a woman named Cathy Binag caused Alvarez to file a complaint before the Ombudsman against Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio "Tonyboy" Floirendo Jr. Binag is the girlfriend of Floirendo, the ex-husband of Miss Universe 1973 Margie Moran.
"Alvarez sued Floirendo for graft for alleged conflict of interest when his banana firm Tagum Agricultural Development Inc. (TADECO) renewed its joint venture agreement (JVA) with the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) in the lease of 5,308.36 hectares of land at the Davao Penal Colony for a banana plantation even when he was congressman in 2003," explained Marc Jayson Cayabyab on Inquirer.
The report further explaiend: "Alvarez said he is just enjoying his relationship with his girlfriend and denied that the graft complaint he filed against Floirendo was because of the women's fight."
On the subject of his girlfriend, Alvarez appeared nonchalant. He admitted that he's estranged from his wife Emelita Alvarez, saying, "Matagal na po kaming hindi nag-uusap, sa totoo lang (We are no longer talking, to be honest)." Then, when asked how long he has been in a relationship with Vicencio, Alvarez quipped: "'Yan ang secret (That's a secret)."
Alvarez added that his children know about his relationship with Vicencio.
The other side
But while Alvarez denied the effects of the so-called war of the girlfriends, Binag thinks otherwise.
In a statement sent to reporters, Binag disclosed, "It's true that I had an altercation with Miss Vicencio during the opening of the Masskara Festival in Bacolod late last year. Let me make it clear that my earlier statement that the problem between my partner, Rep. Tonyboy Floirendo Jr., and his erstwhile friend Speaker Bebot Alvarez started with me and the Speaker’s girlfriend, is true."
She went on to say, "From then on, things spiraled out of control and one thing led to another. But let me just make it clear that as to whether the incident with Miss Vicencio is correlated with the Speaker’s filing of case against my partner is beyond me."
Binag also revealed to The Philippine Star that she thinks Alvarez is "mad" at them "because his wife Emily and their children would always run to her and Floirendo for help whenever they were in trouble with Alvarez."
Then again, it remains unclear what Binag and Vicencio were fighting about in the first place.