Manny Villar blameless?
By Solita Collas-Monsod
WHILE the Senate is declaring a moratorium on the discussion of the ethics case against Sen. Manny Villar, here are some incontrovertible facts, presented in Q & A form. The source of the information is also given.
Question: What roadway projects are the subject matter of the Villar ethics controversy? Answer: 1. The Manila Cavite Toll Expressway Project (MCTEP), the original C-5 south extension project, linking SLEX with the Coastal Road; 2. the DPWH C-5 Extension project (CX-5), which together with 3. the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Project (LPPLP), also links SLEX with the Coastal Road. Source: Senate Report (SR) 780.
Q: Is the CX-5/LPPLP project a realignment, as Sen. Jamby Madrigal describes it, or has there been no realignment, as Senator Villar’s allies insist? A: Technically there has been no realignment, because these are two separate roads linking C-5 from SLEX to the Coastal Road. But they are very close together and, in some areas, overlap, as can be ascertained from a site map. Source: interactive map available at www.gmanews.tv
Q: Are there any differences between the MCTEP and the CX-5/LPPLP? A: Yes. 1. The MCTEP is a joint-venture project between the government and a private Malaysian partner, with the government’s financial exposure limited to P2.68 billion for the purchase of the road right-of-way; the private partner is responsible for the construction of the project, for which tolls will be charged. The CX-5/LPPLP is a toll-free, wholly-financed government project costing P6.96 billion; 2. The CX-5/LPPLP is longer than the MCTEP, its extra length essentially covering the LPPLP portion; 3. The CX-5/LPPLP passes through more Villar properties than the MCTEP. Source: DPWH project documents cited as Exhibits A, B and TTTT in SR 780; site map from www.gmanews.tv.
Q: How large are the Villar company landholdings in the immediate vicinity of the questioned road projects? A: At least 50-52 hectares: 40 hectares in the vicinity of the LPPLP; 10-12 hectares in the area between Sucat Road and Multinational Avenue. Source: testimony of Anastacio Adriano Jr., senior vice president and general manager, chief operating officer of Adelfa Properties Inc. and other Villar-owned companies up to 2008; self-styled consultant and political officer of Senator Villar since August 2008. Nota bene: Senate employment records do not include his name. Nota bene: it is not clear whether the 50-52 hectares mentioned above include properties cited in SR 780—roughly 10 hectares in area—to be developed by Villar companies in joint venture with their owners.
Q: What is the involvement of Villar in CX-5 and LPPLP? A: 1. 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]”; 2. Various insertions and amendments (Priority Development Assistance Fund, read pork barrel) in the national government budget over the years 2002-2008 for CX-5 and LPPLP; 3. Adriano (cited above), in the office of and presence of Villar, dictating to the director general of the Senate’s Legislative Budget Research and Monitoring Office (LBRMO) Villar’s proposed amendments to the 2008 budget, including a P400-million appropriation for the CX-5. Source: documents submitted by DPWH, lawyer Yolanda Doblon of the LBRMO, testimony of both Doblon and Adriano, cited in SR 780.
Q: Were the Villar properties bought for road right-of-way overpriced? A: SR 780 argues for the affirmative; PSR 1472 (the resolution signed by Villar and his allies exonerating him from all charges) argues for the negative. This calls for a conclusion of the reader. And to help that along, I have—based on the documented prices and acreage of the lands purchased in connection with the LPPLP—computed the weighted average prices that were paid for the Villar and related properties, and those paid for the non-Villar properties. The results: The Villar/related properties, comprising 23,455 square meters, were bought for P168.1 million. The non-Villar properties, comprising 11,685 square meters, were bought for P22 million. That comes to a weighted average of P7,168 per square meter for Villar’s properties, and P1,880 per square meter for the non-Villar properties. That has to be a statistically significant difference.
Given the above facts—which no one can contest, since they are based on official documents, and not on a he-says-she-says set of assertions—it has to be reasonable to conclude:
1. Since there was already an ongoing project (the MCTEP) linking C-5 to the Coastal Road, it was totally unnecessary to build a second one.
2. Which means that there was a waste of scarce resources. Instead of using only P2.6 billion of government funds for the first project, the government had to spend an additional P6.9 billion for the second, which practically duplicated the first, except for the additional length which happily for Senator Villar, traversed his properties.
3. This unnecessary, wasteful project was certainly Villar’s idea. It is specious to argue that it is a DPWH project. As the DPWH feasibility study states (in black and white), both the CX-5 and the LPPLP were conceived and initially funded by Villar.
4. Villar benefited tremendously from the second project. Certainly, his companies were paid significantly more per square meter for the road right of way (which were mostly bought from him). But that pales into insignificance compared with the tremendous increase in the values of his real estate holdings in the area—at least 50-52 hectares.
Is he blameless? Is the Pope protestant?