House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez confirms he is a member of the Manobo tribe which allows him to contract multiple marriages.
Alvarez mentioned this in a radio interview as he defended his support for a bill on the dissolution of marriage.
Alvarez explained that he filed the bill not for himself because he can have multiple marriages as a member of the Manobo tribe. “hindi ko po iyan kailangan, dahil ako po ay miyembro ng isang tribe sa Mindanao kung saan po puwede po sa amin yung multiple marriages. “
Alvarez apparently referred to Republic ACt 8731 or the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act which among others guarantees that “The State shall recognize, respect and protect the rights of ICCs/IPs to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions and institutions.”
According to the National Commission on the Culture and the Arts, The Manobo are probably the most numerous of the ethnic groups of the Philippines in terms of the relationships and names of the various groups that belong to this family of languages. Mention has been made of the numerous subgroups that comprise the Manobo group.
According to the Bukidnon government website, poligamy is allowed among the Manobo tribe. “Poligamy, although rarely practiced, was allowed. A datu might resort to it, usually for economic and political reasons. Several wives allowed for more foelds that could be cultivated, since the Manobo women did all the work in the fields. Poligamy also multiplied one’s alliances and expanded them to several communities. However, they could take another wife only if the first wife and her parents consented. The first wife remained the head wife. “ (http://www.bukidnon.gov.ph/home/index.php/about-bukidnon/traditional-people/the-manobo)
Alvarez’s marital circumstances came under scrutiny after he admitted having a girlfriend and that he has separated from his legal wife.