Manny Villar Jr. a Philippine Presidentiable Controversy Collections.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


IN respect of his goals in life, ambitious is the one single word that best describes the personality type of Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Manny Villar. His life is an absorbing tale of grit and determination, of goals set and achieved, of a long and seemingly endless single-minded quest for money and personal achievement.

Manny Villar comes from a middle class family. His claim that they were poor has been proven as totally baseless. It is nothing more than a ploy to court the sympathy – and snag the votes – of those who belong to the ranks of what are euphemistically called the "underprivileged" or the "less fortunate". All nine siblings never enrolled in public schools but studied in private schools. How poor is that?

His story begins with the all-too-familiar account of a young man assiduously trying to finish his education, gaining employment, setting up a business, and trying to clamber up the social ladder. Except that his story takes on a decidedly pleasant twist – by design or by a happy accident of fate, he marries into a wealthy, land owning Las Piñas family that also happens to wield political power and could well be the longest-lasting political dynasty in the country.

It is not clear whether Manny dreamed of becoming a political somebody from the very start. It appears, however, that his marriage to the former Cynthia Aguilar became his ticket into the rarefied world of politics, eventually launching a political career and affording him a shot to national prominence.

Villar’s rise in politics started in 1992 when he won as Congressman of Muntinlupa-Las Piñas. Through astute political maneuvering and probably aided by financial clout, he became Speaker of the House in 1998, in the process thwarting the rival bid of then Makati Congressman Joker Arroyo.

Joker later became a close ally of Villar. Before that however, the Makati solon denounced Villar on the floor of Congress, accusing him of three serious infractions of the law in connection with the loans that Villar, while serving as a member of Congress, obtained from government financing institutions to fund his real estate business.

Arroyo said Villar violated Article XI, Section of the Constitution (that deals with matters involving conflict of interest), Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, and Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act.

There are other equally grave accusations hurled against the standard bearer of the Nacionalista Party, virtually all of them involving land issues, in which he is supposed to have used his power and influence as a public official.

The most serious among them is the alleged double insertion of P200 million in the public works budget for the C-5 Road extension project, which was reportedly rerouted so that it would pass along the subdivisions of his real estate firms. The controversy resulted in his ouster as Senate president. The result of the Senate investigation of the allegations against Villar declared him guilty and even ordered him to reimburse the P6.2 billion of government money that was said to have been wasted because of the rerouting.

Recently, more than a hundred Dumagat tribesmen from Norzagaray, Bulacan held successive rallies before the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and Office of the Ombudsman to denounce Villar and his wife, Congresswoman Cynthia. This is an alleged land grabbing case that was the subject of an earlier column, which elicited no rebuttal from the NP or Villar camps.

The Dumagats claim studied inaction on the part of government agencies handling the graft and plunder charges they filed against the senator in 2008. A separate case had been filed against Rep. Villar before the Office of the City Prosecutor of San Jose del Monte for alleged swindling.

Villar is also involved in another land dispute where one of his firms, Crown Asia, is accused of land grabbing. This has to do with a 2.18 hectare property in San Pedro, Laguna sequestered by the Presidential Commission and is said to be owned by the government.

Crown Asia’s claim is being contested by residents and settlers in the area, who said the Calamba City Register of Deeds has no record of the title and Deed of Absolute Sale that Crown Asia presented to prove its claim. It appears that the Supreme Court has declared the land as sequestered property, ownership of which is expected to be formally transferred by the Sandiganbayan to the government anytime soon. The residents are saying that once the transfer to the government is effected, they expect to be given pre-emptive rights to buy and own the property.

What all these indicate is that in his dealings and actions, whether in business, sports, gambling or in politics, clearly Manny Villar will spare nothing to get what he wants. What happens if, despite all his efforts, he still doesn’t get what he wants?

Unfortunately for him, many of his land deals seem to be tainted with controversy, some bordering on dishonesty. In this regard, Senators Jamby Madrigal and Panfilo Lacson had accused him of graft.

Former President Joseph Estrada says that Villar attempted to bribe him. Three of Villar’s colleagues in the Senate – Dick Gordon, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Madrigal also aired similar accusations. All these supposed bribery attempts are heavily loaded with political undertones and could well be aimed at countering Vilar’s overweening political ambitions.

In aiming for the presidency, he is like a man possessed who will employ all means, including spending a scandalous amount, estimated at more than P2 billion as of this month, to fuel his relentless drive to capture Malacañang.

Truly, Manny Villar is turning out be a man with a monomaniacal mind.

Personally, I am uneasy with monomaniacs whether in business, sports or politics.

The reality is that he just might become president. And that is scary. What if, should he become our president, he is tempted (as all our presidents have been), to become our president for life? Then, he would be one-up on GMA.

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