True to the form of a wily, scheming, and accomplished 'Trapo' (traditional politician), Manny Villar went to the senate floor yesterday, delivered a privilege speech in defense of himself claiming the C5 Ethics issue is merely a cheap political gimmick concocted by his detractors to discredit him. The one hour long tirade against his detractors were full of the same lies and excuses he has fed the media in several occasions in the past relative to the issue. After the speech, the unexpected happened! He suddenly walked out never to be seen again, denying the senators the chance to interpelate him....and preventing the nation to know the real truth!
The unsuspecting senators who had waited a long time to confront him never realized from the onset that they were just going to be used and abused by the scheming Villar to deliver what is to me now, more of a campaign speech than anything else! He never intended to answer the questions surrounding the controversial issue. He wanted to deliver a speech meant to turn him into a martyr and project an image of the persecuted! (Paawa effect) Little did everyone realize that this was the wily game plan of this accomplished political actor who could lie through his teeth to his country men in front of television cameras.
To me, he is a coward who wants to hide the truth on the C5 Scam from the public. Ordinarily, an innocently accused will bravely face his tormentors and disprove all charges against him - Specially so, if the accused is gunning for the highest position of trust in the land; specially so, in an election where transparency in governance has become a focal point of all campaign issues coming as it is after 9 years of corrupt governance by the Arroyo administration!
But, nahh! The already feeling-high-and-mighty Villar, after having bought his way into a position of prominence - from speaker of the house, to being the senate president, and now as a seemingly formidable presidential contender (representing a political party which he has also literally bought) - will not have any of this! He will not go through the pains of proving his claimed innocence in an acceptable and credible arena of public trust! He will not utter a statement under oath! Despite having 10 lap dogs in the senate who at anytime can freeze or even stop the proceedings should he be treated unfairly in the floor, he still refused to be interpelated, and instead, immediately walked out of the senate building after delivering his piece...even refusing to be interviewed by media on the way to his car! ... as if telling everyone, he is innocent and that what he had just declared in his speech is gospel truth...swallow it hook, line, and sinker!
Ahh, the arrogance in him! It may be because he continues to bask in the 'glory' of being called the "Brown Taipan" of Asia... or maybe because of the billions he has accumulated through the years taking advantage of the unsuspecting poor as in the case of the unsuspecting farmers of Norzagaray, Bulacan...or maybe because he has bought and now has a stable of prominent politicians all over the country (including left leaning ones) all ready to be his lap dogs on any issue at his beck and call!
I was as dumbfounded as Senator Enrile and the other non-Villar senators, when he walked out after his speech! I felt an inexplicable hurt inside of me! I felt raw anger! Deep inside, I was hoping he'd clear himself up in this particular issue... because, although I am a Noynoy supporter, I am also a practical minded person, and I accept the possibility that with his billions, he might just be able to succeed in buying his way to Malacanang. So, secretly, I was hoping he'd finally clear himself from all charges of unethical conduct and allegations of enriching himself further while in public office - that way, in case he wins, it will not be another crook in the palace...so I thought! But, nahh, the already feeling-high-and-mighty Villar left in a huff after delivering his piece...leaving us all on our own - to sift through his well-orchestrated, highly funded propaganda campaign maze he has managed to build all around him - just to seek the truth on the C5 issue!
So, I am not going to waste a second to expose the lies and half truths, the spins and the rubs of his excuses! Allow me then to point out the flaws and the lies in his delivered speech.
In his speech, Villar said: "For the record, Mr. President, the C5 Road Project is not just my own personal project though it is one I am proud to be associated with – all of these controversies notwithstanding. This is a project of the government implemented through the Department of Public Works and Highways."
On the later part of his discourse he said:
..."I did not direct, or influence, the DPWH to have the C5 Project pass through my properties. The fact is that the conceptualization, alignment, planning and execution of the said project were all done by the DPWH. "
The Incontrovertible Truth:
The Project Feasibility Study of the DPWH for CX-5 states: “The conceptualization of and the initial release of funds for the CX-5 Project was initiated by Sen. Manuel Villar whose same efforts also paved the way for the funding of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Road [LPPLP]” Source: documents submitted by DPWH, lawyer Yolanda Doblon of the LBRMO, testimony of both Doblon and Adriano, cited in SR 780
My rejoinder (and Villar's spin):
In the above statements, Villar was deliberately confusing the senators and the public on the issue. He opens up by saying the C5 project is not his own personal project...(which is true by the way..it was a DPWH project started in 1986). What he intentionally avoided clarifying was that his unethical conduct was not for the C5 Road Project....nor for the original C5 Road Extension Project (MCTEP) which was to connect SLEX with the Coastal Road, - but for two other road projects for which he has initiated the conceptualization and the initial funding of -These are the DPWH C-5 Extension project (CX-5), which together with the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Project (LPPLP), also links SLEX with the Coastal Road.
Confusing? You bet! Intentional? I believe so!
For one, there was already the MCTEP where road right of way payments have already been made, so why undertake the two new linked road projects which is much longer and at a much much higher cost (6.98 billion for the two vs. 2.68 billion for MCTEP) yet serves the same purpose of linking the C5 Road with the coastal road, and at the time when the country is reeling from a global financial crisis?
Here's the rub: Throughout his entire speech ( and in all his past media presentations), Villar made it sound that the two road projects CX-5 and LPPLP is part and parcel of the original C5 Extension Project. The truth is only MCTEP is part of the original two part C5 Road Extension Project. CX-5 and LPPLP came much later through representations made by Villar with DPWH.
You may want to ask - why will he hide the two linked road projects under the shadow of MCTEP? Why deny that he initiated CX-5 and LPPLP? Why confuse us with double talk on the two road projects making it sound as if they are one and the same project as the original C5 Road Extension Project at one point in time in his presentation, and then explaining that they are separate projects requiring separate funding at another time?
The answer is Simple! Villar Wanted To Avoid being charged with conflict of interest!
Villar had to make it appear that the two new road projects (CX-5 and LPPLP), which passes through more subdivisions owned by his companies (23 to be exact) are part of the original C5 extension project (MCTEP) since his company , Adelfa Properties, Inc., had already secured a 1999 DOJ opinion clearing Villar of any conflict of interest relative to properties that will be run over by MCTEP! (Convenient excuse? Blatant manipulation I call it!) Try to read through his speech yourself and you'd understand what I mean.
In case you still have failed to discern the Villar Yarn at this point, here's how he is trying to exonerate himself from the charges of conflict of interest!
In his speech, Villar said: "The truth of the matter is that one of my companies even sought the opinion of the Department of Justice precisely to determine whether or not the validity of the proposed transaction will be affected by the fact that I am its principal stockholder and whether the proposed acquisition will be violating any law or regulation, particularly the Constitution.
For God's sake, Villar was referring to a 1999 DOJ opinion involving the original MCTEP, a project Villar has nothing to do with. Ergo, since Villar was not a party to MCTEP Project, the DOJ Opinion, purposely sought by Adelfa Properties, Inc. cleared Villar of any possible conflict of interest! However, this opinion can not and must not be used to clear him of possible impropriety involving the two new road projects which he personally initiated (CX5 and LPPLP). This is the height of manipulation! Not only are they (CX-5 and LPPLP), as Villar even admits it, distinct from MCTEP, the two road projects also passes through more of Villar's properties (23 to be exact) immediately raising their market value overnight providing Villar's companies with windfall profits!
Amazingly, bright as he is, Villar erred in interpreting the DOJ Opinion when in the same speech he said
"And, significantly, on November 9, 1999, the DOJ, through Justice Serafin R. Cuevas, rendered an opinion holding that the acquisition by the Government of private property for right-of-way purposes does not fall within the Constitutional prohibition against Members of Congress having direct or indirect financial interest in any contract with the government."
Was this an error or an intentional remark to further mislead the public? The DOJ opinion was clear and precise limiting the opinion to the Toll Regulatory Board's acquisition of Adelfa properties as a consequence of the implementation of the MCTEP for which the opinion was specifically sought. It is totally wrong and clearly unconstitutional for Justice Cuevas to say, as Villar stated it "that the acquisition by the Government of private property for right-of-way purposes does not fall within the Constitutional prohibition against Members of Congress having direct or indirect financial interest in any contract with the government."
This is not what Secretary Cuevas said. The opinion reads in part this way,
“In the instant case, there is no showing that the principal stockholder of the Adelfa Properties Inc. (API) took advantage of his position as a member of the House of Representatives to enable API to enter into a contract with the TRB involving the API’s property. The transaction arose as a necessary consequence of the government’s decision to implement the MCTEP and for which it became necessary for the TRB to acquire properties for right-of-way purposes. The API property happens to be one of those that the TRB had identified as necessary for the implementation of the MCTEP."
Clearly, the opinion was specific for the particular inquiry sought - which is whether Villar, being a congressman then and the principal stockholder of Adelfa Properties, Inc. will be violating Section 14, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution (prohibiting " a member of congress, inter-alia, having financial interest, direct or indirect, "In any contract with, or in any franchise or special privilege granted by the government or any subdivision, agency, or instrumentality thereof"). And since the DOJ established that the proposed sale of API properties to the TRB was not sought by API of which Villar was the principal stockholder, and since the acquisition is the consequence of the government decision to implement the MCTEP project , the DOJ Opinion declared "this Department does not foresee in situations such as this, that a principal stockholder of a private corporation who happens to be a member of the House of Representatives would be cited as having violated Section 14, Article VI of the 1987 Constitution..."s DOJ Opinion to justify Villar's involvement with the CX-5 and the LPPLP Road Projects.
Clearly, the DOJ Opinion cited by Villar was specific for the instant involving the TRB and Villar and his API relative to the MCTEP project. It will be outright manipulation and a blatant lie to now use thi
It will be totally negligent and irresponsible for us to allow the C5 Issue to be swept under the rugs. It will be totally stupid for us to elect such a scheming, manipulative 'trapo' to the highest position in the land! It will be a big joke to all Filipinos if the C5 issue is not resolved with finality soon!
It is no wonder now why Villar avoided making these same pronouncements under oath! His statements will never stand the scrutiny of the bright minds in the senate. Unfortunately for the Filipino people, he was smart enough to avoid being censured by the senate with the help of his lap dogs who boycotted the senate session preventing a quorum!
In parting, I want to say that I can not in my mind think of having another lying, scheming, plundering president! Nine years of Arroyo is enough! So, today I am starting my own chicken wa...I mean Villar Watch!