Manny Villar Jr. a Philippine Presidentiable Controversy Collections.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Probe Villar fund source, Comelec asked

Why does Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar seem to have such deep pockets for his campaign?

A lawyer Monday asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate the source of the funds Villar has been spending on his extensive campaign for the presidency, and to disqualify him if it is found that the funds had come from illegal sources.
In his complaint, lawyer Ernesto Francisco said Villar had just over P29 million in his bank account as of December 2008, which amount could not be bankrolling his campaign which he estimates to have cost over P1 billion so far.

Even if Villar sold his assets, the amount would not be enough as well, Francisco said. He pointed out that Villar had always claimed he was spending his own money on his campaign.

Omnibus Election Code

He asked the poll body to investigate if Villar’s funds had come from the initial public offering (IPO) of his real estate firms Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. and from other real estate companies of which he is a stockholder.

He noted that the IPO took place around the time that Villar announced he was running for president.

He said the law prohibits Villar’s companies from contributing to his or to anyone’s campaign.

The Omnibus Election Code states that corporations that have been granted franchises, incentives and exemptions by the government are barred from directly or indirectly giving contributions to partisan political activities.

Francisco said the real estate firms of which Villar is a stockholder enjoy incentives from the government. He said the real estate business was highly regulated, as Vista Land noted in its prospectus, and those engaged in it received exemptions, privileges and concessions from the government.

As well, domestic corporations that develop and sell socialized housing are exempt from project-related income taxes.

Francisco said that even if Villar were a stockholder of the real estate firms, he could not claim that its money belonged to him and that he could use it for his campaign.

Funds not his

“In this regard, it is not relevant or material if respondent Sen. Manuel B. Villar Jr. is the major or principal stockholder of the aforementioned local corporations because, as earlier mentioned, the funds and assets of the said corporations do not belong to him but, rather, those are corporate funds and assets belonging to the said corporations. Accordingly, the funds and assets of the said corporations cannot be used in the presidential campaign of respondent,” he said.

Francisco said he filed the complaint of his own accord and not on behalf of any politician.

Francisco is a lawyer of Sen. Jamby Madrigal, a presidential candidate and consistent Villar critic.

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