C5: A road to elsewhere

A road through elsewhere
Oct 15, 2008

—mala-mr.exposey ang drama ni lito banayo these days. patindi nang patindi ang mga banat niya kina manny villar, the senate president, at cynthia villar, the congresswoman from las pinas, sa kanyang malaya column. check out A case of plunder and The road to nowhere or read on.—

The Carlos P. Garcia Avenue, from SLEX to Sucat Road Extension, and from there, onwards to the Coastal Road, is not a “road to nowhere.” More appropriately, it is the “road through elsewhere”.

What has become a road to nowhere though is another-the original C-5 as planned, and for which money spent by two previous administrations have been laid to waste. Read on and find out how this happened:

The Circumferential Road that was to thread around the metropolis, just as EDSA does, was planned long ago, in fact, as far back as Ferdinand Marcos’ extended stay in Malacañang. EDSA stretches from the city of Caloocan at the Bonifacio monument all the way down to Roxas Boulevard, crossing through Quezon City, San Juan, Mandaluyong, Makati, and Pasay. C-5 strings Navotas-Malabon in the northwestern side of Manila Bay, goes through Caloocan, then Quezon City, to Mandaluyong, Makati, Pasig, Taguig, crossing SLEX around the Bicutan area, and through Parañaque up to the Coastal Road along the southwest part of Manila Bay. There is absolutely no doubt that it is a major road artery with great benefit to motorists and transport operators. Nobody disputes that.

In fact, it certainly qualifies for foreign funding. But somehow, we’ve always been using funds appropriated piece-meal from the General Appropriations Act, except for fly-overs traversing it, which were funded by bilateral financing assistance from Japan.

But here is the startling discovery the Senate investigation into the 200 million peso “insertion” triggered: The original C-5 stretch from SLEX to Coastal as planned, has been transferred to some other site. It has been moved elsewhere!

Originally, DPWH would have constructed the road from somewhere in Bicutan through Parañaque, and comes out to Sucat after passing through the huge property of Amvel Corporation, owned by Bro. Mike Velarde of the El Shaddai, which ends at Sucat Road. From there, it goes through San Dionisio in Parañaque, almost at the border of La Huerta, widening an existing road called Kabihasnan. In fact, as early as FVR’s term, concluded in Erap’s shortened term, a negotiated price had been set for the road right-of-way traversing Amvel’s land. Government had already paid 1.2 billion pesos for that stretch of road.

Yet in a macabre twist of events, that stretch of C-5 or Carlos P. Garcia Avenue, was moved from the area traversing Amvel’s paid-for right of way, and forays farther south, through other properties, and approaches Sucat elsewhere, near the border of San Dionisio, right smack into the SM Mall complex. Then, a new road, already constructed, traverses the SM property, cuts through portions of Pulang Lupa in Las Piñas, and ends in Aldana, also in Las Piñas. From there, it will cross onto the Coastal Road. The new road will be longer than the original C-5, but what’s more, it passes through 39 lots, 12 of which belong to either Adelfa Corporation, or Brittany Corporation, or Golden Haven Memorial Park, all of which belong to the Villar spouses, Manuel and Cynthia, their children and minority assigns.

By moving the C-5 Road “elsewhere,” not only has the cost of construction expanded, but the purchase of right-of-way has multiplied.

Worse, criminal in fact, is that by so doing, government throws away 1.2 billion precious pesos paid out in road right-of-way rights to private landowners, chief of which is the Amvel of Bro. Mike Velarde.

How was this done? How was the original plan scrapped, and the road effectively moved elsewhere? Ask the spouses Manuel and Cynthia Villar, now Senate President and lone representative of Las Piñas City in the Lower House.

For when Villar the husband was yet the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee back in 2004, he and his Cynthia worked out a project proposal with the Department of Public Works and Highways, providing funds amounting to 710 million pesos, for road construction and “road right-of-way” payments in the newly-moved location of C-5. For that year alone, 355 million was allocated for right-of-way settlements. And clearly, Villar and his family corporations own so much of these properties. From the public monies appropriated in the budget Villar “amended” – to his own pocket, right?

And that is just the 2005 appropriations law. What about the 2006 budget, which was a re-enacted budget? Did the Doña’s DBM release re-aligned funds once more to fund Villar’s favorite project? After all, Villar was a pillar of the administration’s support base in the Senate, having in fact become Senate President by virtue of a term-sharing deal ironed out with Franklin Drilon, who in the middle of 2005, after discovery of the election cheating conspiracy between Garci and Gloria, had the courage to call for his president’s resignation. Not Villar. Never Villar, who now styles himself as “opposition”.

Now, pray ask our dear senators of the realm – did then Senator Manuel Villar, by effectively causing the re-routing of C-5, not cause the waste of public monies already sunk in road right-of-way payments to private persons to the tune of almost 1.2 billion pesos? Is this not violative of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act?

And in proposing the new C-5 project, passing through properties that his family corporations own, pray ask, was not Senator Manuel Villar guilty of conflict of interest, which violates constitutional provisions?

And in appropriating funds for the revised road project, the road right-of-way problems for 2005 alone amounting to 355 million pesos, was not Villar guilty of self-dealing, using funds that belong to the Treasury over which he had greater power to appropriate than any of his peers, being at the time chair of the Finance Committee? Isn’t this again a clear conflict of interest?

Then again, this time as Senate President in 2007, while passing the General Appropriations Act for the current year 2008, did not Villar cause the “insertion” of an additional 200 million pesos over and above a similar amount proposed in the President’s budget through the National Expenditures Program? That fact was established during the single open-and-shut hearing called by Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, who himself confirmed that it was his Senate President who asked for the insertion, earmark or amendment.

That the money had not yet been spent, and that the money was not to go directly to Villar’s pocket or anybody else’s, does not detract from the fact that all along, the Senate President who was once chair of the Senate Finance Committee, was profiting, and profiting immensely, from the relocation of a new C-5 from an old C-5 road plan. And would profit even more, in fact, humongously more, once the new road opens up all his real estate, which will later spot such ultra-expensive brands as Portofino, or La Marea, or Brittany, or whatever else, no more the plebeian Palmera or Camella?

Why am I now detailing the specifics of the bizarre arrangements made by Senator Manuel Villar with the present administration, as if I were a reporter instead of an opinion writer?

Because the public has the right to know what many sectors of media have conveniently hidden from them, whether through deliberately shortened reports of through a plain news blackout, as happened on the night and succeeding nights of the nation’s biggest television network. 1.2 billion pesos down the drain, and additional public funds spent and yet to be spent, simply because one family’s greed knows no bounds, yet this is not considered important enough to be news? One wonders whether the network’s moguls are in the know about what their editors and news managers do “on the side.”

But that is not the only story. There is more than what we see on the surface. This is not just a case of self-aggrandizement, enriching one’s coffers by using power and influence to determine policies, plans and programs of government.

In the next column, we will detail more sinister C-5 related deals of the man who heads the Senate of the Republic. . . .

The ProPinoy Project