In this Jan. 22, 2017 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez attend the birthday party of police chief Ronald dela Rosa. STAR, file
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday dismissed as a “non-issue” the extramarital affairs of House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, saying the lawmaker is not a Catholic and is therefore not bound to have just one wife.
Duterte said Alvarez’s grandfather was Chinese while his mother was a Muslim.
“Even if Bebot (Alvarez’s nickname) says he has five or four (women), we can’t do anything. He never converted to Christianity so he is not bound by the number of women you can have,” Duterte said during the launch of the Metro Manila Development Authority crisis monitoring and management center in Makati.
Monogamy is by no means a concept inclusive to Christianity.
The Family Code, which Duterte cited in the past to say same-sex marriages are against the law, also holds that marriage
"is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation."
Under that law, bigamous and polygamous marriages are considered "void from the beginning."
Meanwhile, the Revised Penal Code provides penalties for "any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place."
Alvarez, who admitted that six of his eight children are out of wedlock, is now facing a possible disbarment complaint over his extramarital affairs.
But Duterte believes that the criticisms against the lawmaker were borne out of hypocrisy.
“This is a world of hypocrisy. Sino ba walang babae dito (Who has no mistress here)?” the president said.
Duterte then teased Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and asked him to look him straight in eyes while he was talking about womanizing.
“Look at me straight in the eyes. I’ll tell you, you (Bautista) are a liar,” the president said in jest.
Duterte even advised Bautista to introduce himself as an atheist so he can have as many women as he wants.
“You will be charged someday. Don’t tell them you are a Catholic or a Protestant. All you have to say is that I am an atheist… If you are an atheist. You can have as much as you want as long as you are able to support the children,” he said.
Duterte admitted that he is no saint and that he has “many wives.” He is puzzled though as to why there is so much fuss about the affairs of other people.
“I have no money but I have many wives. You said you need money to have many wives. My wives are all rich just like Speaker Alvarez,” he said.
“Why do you have to bother about how many wives...It’s a chauvinist statement but really there are so many women and so short a time in this world.”
Alvarez's affairs came to public attention after it was alleged that a graft complaint he filed against former friend and ally Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr. stemmed from a spat between their girlfriends.
Alvarez said a joint venture agreement between Tagum Agricultural Development Company, Inc., which is owned by Floirendo's family, and the Bureau of Corrections is disadvantageous to the government and constitutes a conflict of interest because Floirendo was a congressman when the deal was renewed in 2003.
Floirendo has denied participation in the deal.