Villar can be a dangerous president – Erap

Villar can be a dangerous president – Erap
The Philippine Star

BUTUAN City  , Philippines – Former President Joseph Estrada believes he has a duty as a citizen to reveal the true personality of Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino standard-bearer said Villar’s alleged involvement in stock manipulation could make him a very dangerous president.

Estrada said he had given Villar the benefit of the doubt, although he did not clearly explain the various allegations against him.

“Not until there is a document,” he said. “That is the time I disclosed it. It’s my duty even as a private citizen to make the people know what some elected officials are like.

“He keeps on telling the people through advertisements that he is helping the overseas Filipino workers, but then he is raking in billions of income from that.

“I have seen the prospectus (of Vista Land). But even if he has facilitated the return of 1,000 OFWs he will still profit from that, that is why his target market are the OFWs.”

Estrada said Villar’s alleged involvement in stock manipulation has given him undue advantage.

“If he can do that while he was speaker, Senate president, how much more when he is already the president,” he said.

PMP spokesman Ralph Calinisan said Villar might have violated Republic Act 3019, the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, when he tried to “persuade” members of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) to grant his “request” to unlock his shares of stocks in Vista Land and Lifescapes, Inc.

“Moreover, it is also equally illegal for any person who has direct or indirect financial interest to intervene in SEC and PSE board proceedings, especially since he was then Senate president.”

Calinisan said Villar resorted to the weakest form of defense when he merely denied and described as “pure politicking” the allegations leveled against him by Estrada and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Calinisan said Villar’s credibility is now in question.

Villar has been “positively identified” by a number of players in the whole issue, a fact which he cannot deny, he added.

Former SEC chairman Perfecto Yasay Jr. believes Villar’s presence at the SEC was irregular.

“I’m really concerned and deeply disturbed by what is being claimed by the SEC and some other quarters that the presence of Villar in the stock exchange meeting and decision to lift the lockout provision on his shareholding and his calls to the SEC were nothing irregular,” he said.

“Everything is irregular with it especially in the light of our experiences in the country.

“If Villar honestly felt that he was not pressuring people to lift the lockout provision to enable him to sell his shares, then he should not have been there. His presence alone was a tremendous pressure that I am sure impacted on the outcome of the decision, which was to lift the lockout.”

Yasay said Estrada was the last person he expected to expose the alleged irregularity.

“I’m surprised that it is President Estrada who is the one saying this and I’m sure that Estrada had good motives in saying this to help the people,” he said.

Gerard Lukban, SEC spokesman, said the allegations against the agency and its top officials have no basis.

He said Villar was not present in any meeting of the SEC at the time when Vistaland’s initial public offering/listing application was being deliberated.

Allegations that Villar had been calling SEC chair Fe Barin to follow up on the firm’s application were purely speculation, he added.

The SEC is looking into the allegations and has referred the case to the agency’s stock market surveillance department, Lukban said.

Villar countered yesterday that not a single peso of government money was lost but some P130 million in taxes were paid when his company sold shares at the stock market.

Speaking at the NP headquarters in Mandaluyong, Villar said the PSE did not bend rules for his company during the selling of shares. – Jose Rodel Clapano, Christina Mendez, Evelyn Macairan, Aurea Calica

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