The C5 Extension Projects: How The Lies Were ‘Spinned’
Much has been said about the C5 Extension Project Controversy. Many tempers have flared and dozens of harsh words have been exchanged! Through it all, the man in the center of this controversy, Manny Villar, have continuously refused to appear before the Senate inquiry to shed light on the matter – under oath…choosing instead to spend millions on expensive press conferences to submit his trumped up defense on the issue.
Going back, we must recall that the ‘first smoke’ from this controversy filtered out from Senator Panfilo Lacson‘s privilege speech entitled “Sipag at Kapal” which was delivered sometime in September, 2008 (Note: This was 2 years before the 2010 Presidential elections). Thereafter, Senator Jamby Madrigal filed an Ethics case against Villar on the same issue, which later on was taken up by the Senate Committee as a whole spearheaded by Senate president Enrile (which, just recently, issued a resolution censuring Villar for his acts surrounding the C5 controversy, triggering several ugly verbal tussles between the proponents of this resolution and Villar’s allies in the senate floor).
Following Gloria Arroyo‘s many examples in the past on how to effectively handle cases of impropriety hurled against her, Villar also chose not to appear before any of the senate’s inquiries on the matter, and instead, spent and continues to spend a sizable amount of money to present his case to the media (albeit, not under oath).
Having announced his intention to run for president in 2010, Villar, with the help of his lap dogs in the senate, and together with his highy paid PR bureau immediately launched a media campaign blitz to dismiss the C5 accusations as pure political propaganda against him to derail his 2010 presidential ambitions. ( He has adhered to this empty defense up to this day.) Unfortunately, his refusal to present his side in the proper forum leaves us with no chance of finding out the real truth…just as we were kept hanging and hungering for the truth in Arroyo’s past plundering ways … Joc Bolante’s Fertilizer Scam, Jun Lozada‘s Expose on the NBN-ZTE Deal, Garcillano’s 2004 infamous ‘Garci Tapes’, and many more ‘covered-up’ issues spanning the length of the Arroyo administration, …the truth behind each were subsequently buried by relentless press releases, denials, and paid media campaigns.
Will we ever know the truth? Well, at the rate things are going,…and with Villar’s billions in campaign funds, we may never get to see light on the C5 issue!
Should we pursue the truth? Of course we must! – For God’s sake, the man is gunning for the presidency in 2010. After 9 years of suffering under Arroyo (… no thanks to the Catholic bishops’ help and patronage in ousting then President Estrada. and again in not lifting a finger to aee the end to the Garcillano Scandal), we have had enough of Gloria’s decadent style of governance which has spawned a culture of impunity that spread and eroded every national and local government institution in the country…and re-kindled a Marcos-era way of life which accepts corruption and political patronage as essential to political survival!
So what is the C5 Scam? What is the truth behind this broiling issue?
I have pieced together bits and pieces of information, allegations, documents, etc. ( including some excerpts from Villar’s C5 Primer published on his website where he presented his own documentary evidence exonerating himself) to come out with a reasonable and objective presentation of the controversy and put the issue in the right perspective for the ordinary Pinoy to understand! Here it is!
The C5 controversy stems from a complaint filed by Senator Jamby Madrigal accusing Villar of unethical conduct when he reportedly used his position to make alleged illegal insertions into the national budget for an anomalous road project which, according to the same complaint, was purportedly diverted by Villar to pass through several real estate holdings belonging to his family and with which he still he has significant personal holdings.
The photo above is the original C5 Road Project, construction of which started in 1986 and is a project of the national government to provide an alternative route for commuters and decongest traffic along EDSA. (Taken from GMA Mews.TV C5 Extension Interactive Map)
In his C5 Road Primer, Villar, to muddle up the public’s perception of the issue, wittingly said this: “The C5 Road Project is NOT (note: intentionally capitalized) a personal project of Senator Manny Villar. He is, however, an ardent supporter of this project considering the benefit that will redound not only to his constituents in Las Pinas City but to millions of people that will be able to utilize this road.”
Where is the spin?
Readers of Villar’s C5 Primer will be led to believe that we are talking of only one road project – the original C5 Road project. However, to say that the road will benefit his constituents, he must be referring to the south end of the C5 Extension Project which President Arroyo announced will be constructed in 2007. Every time he presents to Media, he remained quiet about the fact that through his personal initiatives as Congressman of Las Pinas the original plan for the south end of the C5 Extension project was replaced by two other road projects which traversed more of his properties in the area! A move which he tries to cover up to avoid charges of conflict of interest by making it appear it is the same old project proposed by DPWH! (A clear attempt to mislead the public.)
Under the original C5 extension project, the south end of the project will be connecting SLEX with the coastal road going to Cavite. The project was supposed to be undertaken by the Toll Regulatory Board under concession with UEM-Mara Phils. a Malaysian firm. Under this set-up, the government’s financial exposure will be 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.
(Taken from GMA Mews.TV C5 Extension Interactive Map)
Where is the rub?
Villar, who was already a congressman then, initiated his own C5 Extension project dubbed as CX-5 with the DPWH as the proponent. CX-5 was to link the southend of C5 road with the Sukat exit of SLEX. To connect this extension to the coastal road (and what for but maintain its legitimacy and appear as if it is the originally approved and funded C5 Extension Project), another road project was necessary – the Las Pinas Paranaque Link Project. Ultimately, the government scrapped the MCTEP project in favor of Villar’s version of the C5 extension plan, but not after paying out millions for road right of way which will not be used after all. Here’s the saddest part! MCTEP would have only cost the government 2.68 Billion. Villar’s version of the C5 extension will cost us 6.96 Billion.
Here are some more rubs!
- The CX-5/LPPLP passes through more Villar properties than the MCTEP. Approximately 50 Hectares of now prime real estate holdings! Neat, Hah!
- The road right of way payments for the Villar properties traversed by the new C5 Extension Project (CX-5 and LPPLP) were scandalously higher than the others. “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.” ( From Manny Villar – Balmeless? by Solita Monsod)
Villar tried to counter this accusation by presenting a certification from the BIR on the actual zonal value of his property – P15,000 per square meter whilst the rest is only P4,000 per square meter! He even presented a location map which to me only clearly showed the starkly unfair valuation for the non-Villar properties! In Villar’s map, the non-Villar properties were even located along the main thoroughfares and adjacent to and nearer the SM complex than the Villar properties! ( What is he in power for, huh?)
- According to documents submitted by DPWH, lawyer Yolanda Doblon of the LBRMO“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]”
What Villar’s C5 Primer has to say about this:
a) On Villar named as “proponent”
“It is common practice in DPWH to reflect the names of the elected officials where the project is located.”
This is not what Atty Doblon said in her sworn affidavit. According to her, Villar conceptualized and initially funded the CX-5 and LPPLP road projects.
Villar’s C5 Primer also carried documentations from the DOJ citing the Opinion dated November 9, 1999 which cleared the way for the sale of Villar’s properties hit by MCTEP to the TRB. Here is the rub. The opinion was sought by Adelfa Properties, Inc., an M.B. Villar Company using the original MCTEP plan with which Villar had nothing to do with. He now uses this DOJ opinion to justify the scandalous sale of his properties hit by the CX-5 and the LPPLP road projects which he personally engineered , conceptualized and initially funded from his own pork barrel!
Can you now say Villar is blameless? As Solita Monsod said in her article on the C5 Extension Mess –