A FORMER House leader has left  President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s ruling party before the 2022 elections.

Davao del Norte Rep. and former House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez quit the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) to “commit and pursue voter’s education campaign” and revive a non-mainstream political party, he said in a statement on Sunday.

“Serving as a ranking officer and member of PDP-Laban while simultaneously handling this advocacy may be misconstrued by critics as politicking by the party presently in power,” he added.

Mr. Alvarez, who served as the party’s secretary-general for five years, has accepted the offer to lead and reconvene Reporma, a political party “not affiliated with any personality reportedly seeking the presidency.”

“This way, the voter’s education campaign can proceed, and rightly be perceived, as politically neutral without risking possible backlash against PDP-Laban,” he added.

The resignation of Mr. Alvares, who once defended the administration’s controversial war on drugs and push to revive death penalty, came after he criticized the Duterte government’s response to the  coronavirus pandemic.

Mr. Alvarez was ousted as House Speaker in July 2018, only to be replaced by another administration ally.

He won a fresh term as representative of Davao Del Norte in the May 2019 elections.

A Speaker from 2016 to 2018, he also served as the Transportation secretary of ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from 2001 to 2002. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza