Erap hurls accusations at Villar
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Former President Joseph Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile accused yesterday Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar of using his influence as Senate president in 2007 to bend the rules of the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and blackmail its directors for the release of multibillion-peso “lockup” shares of stocks of his firm that now serve as his campaign kitty.
Villar’s camp immediately denied the accusations.
In a press conference, Estrada said he was presented with documents involving “Villar’s dishonesty as a businessman at the expense of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).”
He said Villar manipulated the PSE and duped investors who bought shares of stocks in the Vista Land and Lifescapes Inc. (VLL), a holding company owned and controlled by Villar and his family.
“I have given Sen. Manuel Villar the benefit of the doubt even if he has not given our people convincing explanations on many charges leveled against him today.”
Estrada said that a prospectus of the Villar-owned VLL stated that “the company believes its extensive international marketing network enables it to take advantage of the business opportunities presented by the strong growth in remittances by overseas Filipino workers.”
He said page 71 of Vista Land’s prospectus further stated that “as a result of Vista Land’s focus on the overseas Filipino market, a significant portion of its real estate sales has been derived from overseas Filipinos.”
Historically, a majority of the company’s real estate sales came from OFWs.
For his part, Enrile said he wrote members of the board of directors of the PSE last March 18 to confirm that Villar “intervened in the listing and public offering of the shares of stock of VLL in the PSE in June 2007.”
Enrile said a member of the PSE Board has confirmed the veracity of the story that Villar intervened in its board meeting, prompting him to request for copies of the minutes of the special board meeting and other board meetings dealing with Vista Land’s application.
He said PSE chairman Hans Sicat answered his March 18, 2010 letter, but it was marked “private and confidential.”
The camp of Villar lashed back at Estrada and Enrile for “peddling lies” and deceiving the public on the propriety of the stock offering of his real estate company.
“Senator Villar is once again being tried publicly via the media by his political opponents. We challenge them to present documents if indeed they have any such credible documents to back their allegations,” said lawyer Nalen Rosero-Galang, chief legal officer for Villar.
In a statement, Galang also challenged Estrada and Enrile to file charges before the proper courts.
“Until that time, the public should know that this is clearly nothing but political mudslinging,” Galang said. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Marvin Sy, Christina Mendez