Camille Villar denies dad committed vote buying
MANILA, Philippines – The daughter of Nacionalista Party standard bearer Manny Villar denied Monday allegations her father committed vote buying when he awarded scholarships to several children during a concert organized by the party last week.
Camille Villar told ANC’s “The Rundown” that the scholarships had already been awarded on January 23 during the ABS-CBN noontime show “Wowowee.”
Villar pointed out that the awarding was done before the start of the campaign period and that the presentation of the scholars during last week’s Rockotropa Concert was just a formality.
“I was called on stage to say hi to the children. My dad was not on stage. He was there as a guest. We just wanted to call on the children up there. We don’t believe we have violated any election laws,” Villar said.
She added that her father “always encouraged us to help as many people as we can and I think in the end that is what we did.”
The Commission on Elections earlier said Sen. Villar could be liable for vote-buying and disqualified from the presidential race for giving away scholarship grants during the Rockotropa concert.
Speaking to reporters, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the Omnibus Election Code bans candidates from handing out “money or anything of value.”
“The fact that there are tuition fees that would be paid for or books, clothes and even miscellaneous expenses that would be covered… that is ‘money or anything of value’,” he said.
The act of giving away scholarship grants is tantamount to vote-buying, Sarmiento said.
The Omnibus Election Code defines vote-buying as “giving, offering or promising money or anything of value” to induce anyone to vote for or against any candidate.
Senator Villar also found himself in hot water after giving away P20 dole outs to children during a campaign sortie. NP senatorial candidate Gilbert Remulla said the dole outs were simply an act of charity.
At least two presidential candidates, former defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro and former president Joseph Estrada, have defended Villar’s giving of dole outs.
In an interview with reporters, Estrada said Villar’s giving out P20 to children should not be considered a form of vote buying.
“Mga bata naman yung binibigyan nya. Hindi naman bumoboto yun, kaya hindi yun vote-buying,” he said.
The former president admitted that as public servants, it is often difficult to avoid giving money to people. He said people look up to them and often come to them asking for help.
During his campaign rally in Silay City on Monday, Estrada also gave money, this time to an elderly woman who had attended the rally.
The octogenarian was squeezing through the crowd inside the Jose Locsin cultural hall when Estrada’s campaign manager, Ernesto Maceda, caught sight of her and asked her to come closer.
Estrada shook the lady’s hand and humbly accepted when the woman offered to buss him on the cheek. Afterwards, Maceda gave P1,000 to the woman.