Villar: I’m mentally healthy
By Marvin Sy
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. yesterday said he is mentally healthy as he challenged his rival Sen. Benigno Aquino III to address the issues contained in an alleged psychiatric report, which claimed among other things that the Liberal Party (LP) bet suffered from depression and smoked marijuana.
Interviewed over dzMM yesterday, Villar boasted that he has never smoked cigarettes, more so marijuana, and that he keeps himself in good shape.
“I don’t smoke. I drink red wine, which is good for the health. I never smoked. I regularly go to the gym; my weight is okay. I never took drugs and I can categorically say never. I also have never gone to see a psychiatrist, never,” he said.
Aquino has admitted that he is a smoker and that he could not promise to quit.
Villar said Aquino should answer the issues contained in the document point-by-point and not just dismiss the document as being nothing but black propaganda from the NP camp.
“I have read that but first of all, it did not come from us. I am quite surprised at why they have been saying that it came from us,” Villar said.
“But as far as I am concerned, when I read it, I found that it contained very serious information,” he added.
Villar said that Aquino cannot just dismiss the claims as being ridiculous because the people deserve to hear his answers to some very important questions.
“He should say if he ever went to a psychiatrist. If he didn’t, then he didn’t but at least he should deny that he never saw a psychiatrist,” Villar said.
“Because if ever he did go to see a psychiatrist and he is running for president, we need to know the results because as president you will be the commander in chief of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines). Every decision is a major decision,” Villar said.
Villar said he answered the allegations coming from the LP camp that he was never really poor and that he was making spurious claims about this as part of his campaign.
Among the issues raised against Villar was that his family was able to bring his brother Danny to a reputable hospital for treatment of his leukemia and that when he eventually died, he was brought to a big funeral home.
There were also questions raised about how his supposedly poor family could have afforded a well-sized house within a gated subdivision.
Villar argued that since they were both seeking the highest post of the land, they owe it to the people to answer all allegations and issues raised against them.
“Can you say outright that you were never treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist or never took medicine for that or you never smoked marijuana when you were young?” he added.
Aquino and the LP camp have claimed that the psychiatric report that was being circulated was a fake.
The document, which carried the letterhead of the Ateneo De Manila University’s (ADMU) Department of Psychology, also contained the signature of Fr. Tito Caluag.
ADMU has denied the veracity of the report while Caluag said that he did not sign that document and that he never worked under the university’s psychology department.
ABS-CBN, which ran the story, has said that the NP was their source of the document.
Petition is a joke
Villar also laughed off the petition filed by two senatorial bets of the LP to disqualify him from the presidential race because of alleged vote buying.
Villar told reporters in Daet, Camarines Norte last Friday that the petition was a joke and that the public should not take this seriously.
Villar said the petition was nothing but a mere ploy by two candidates in the rival LP to gain some publicity to boost their chances in this May’s general elections.
The petition was filed by LP candidates Nereus Acosta and Martin Bautista before the Commission on Elections on Thursday.
According to the petitioners, Villar violated the country’s election laws when he allegedly engaged in vote buying in two separate occasions last February.
Acosta and Bautista said Villar’s camp handed out scholarships to some children during a concert held at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City last Feb. 25.
The other incident involved Villar handing out P20 bills to some children while he was on a market tour in Lipa, Batangas the following day.
Villar has repeatedly claimed that he did not commit any illegal act in those two incidents and that even his lawyers were laughing at the claims of the LP.
He explained that the distribution of scholarships during the Mall of Asia concert was merely ceremonial since these were promised to the children at an earlier contest held during the daytime variety show Wowowee.
On the Lipa City incident, Villar said he was approached by the children who were asking him to buy them some food.
At the time, Villar said that he could not say no to the children because he felt pity for them.
The NP has argued that the incident could not be considered as vote buying since the children were not voters anyway.
However, the NP did hit back at Acosta yesterday, telling him to explain the graft charges that were filed against him before going on a smear campaign against Villar.
In a statement, the NP criticized Acosta for claiming to be an anti-graft and corruption advocate when he is facing graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman.
The NP said Acosta has no “moral authority” to present himself as an “honest leader” who deserves a seat in the Senate.
“He has been accused of defrauding the taxpayers during his term as congressman of Bukidnon’s first district in 2002,” the NP said.
‘Reveal true self’
The Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP), on the other hand, yesterday told Villar to come out of the closet and reveal his true colors.
PMP spokesman lawyer Ralph Calinisan said only the truth will set the presidential candidate free from any more attacks on the political front.
Calinisan said Villar has been accused that he is the Arroyos’ presidential bet.
“It is only hard in the beginning. After the denial stage, acceptance comes next,” he said.
Calinisan also alleged that their party has received information confirming the alleged links between Villar and Malacañang. – With Christina Mendez and Sandy Araneta