C-5 at Tiaga?
Written by Cocoy
The Senate became an arena this week where Gladiators clashed. It wasn’t Yoda with his green blade of life and the entirety of Jedi lineage meeting Palpatine’s crimson blade of darkness and a thousand years of Sith treachery, saber to saber. There was no lightning thrown from The Dark Lord of the Sith’s hand to scorch the little green Grand Master of the Jedi. Was it ironic then that it was Enrile playing Yoda, and Villar, Palpatine?
This week declared that the phony war was over and from here on the campaign really begins. On the sand, lines were drawn, sides were chosen and each senator stood behind theirs. It just so happened that Manny Villar received the first assault. Many are in fact calling upon him to Face the Music.
There are too many “facts.” Each side, of course will draw their own “evidence”. How then do we sort through the mess and the mountain of “evidence”?
Mentats, according to Frank Herbert were humans trained to surpass computers because of their ability to analyze data and to formulate a conclusion. Will we function as a Mentat?
This is what Team Villar said happened (C5 Primer).
There was no double appropriation.
- 1st 200M was for Sucat Flyover;
- 2nd 200M was for Coastal Flyover;
Did Villar cause C5 Road Extension to be diverted to deliberately pass through his properties?
- Alignment was DPWH identified.
- Alleged ‘original alignment’ was really the alignment of Manila-Cavite Toll Express Way Project (different from C5 Road Project)
- MCTE and C5 are separate and implemented independently.
On October 15, 2008, Robert Lala, CESO III, regional director, NCR wrote:
“The project was not re-routed as it followed the original route or alignment prepared by DPWH-NCR except for the location of 1 bridge (bridge 2), whose centerline was slightly shifted in the upstream direction to rotate it in a more north-south direction in order not to create conflict with the proposed alignment of LRT Line 1 South Extension Project.”
Did the government acquire the properties owned by Villar at an over-priced amount?
Manny Villar said that properties were acquired at their zonal values, as certified by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). He cited BIR certification dated October 6, 2003 by Carmelita Bacod, Revenue District Officer:
“This is to certify that the zonal value of the commercial property located in Real St. Barangay Pulang Lupa Uno, vicinity of Perpetual Village is PHP13,300, based on Revised Zonal Valuation 1996.”
Is Senator Villar required to “divest” under the law?
According to Team Villar, the Constitution only requires full disclosure of financial and business interest by Senators.
Was there conflict of interest?
The Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials, “Conflict of Interest” occurs when the official or employee is a substantial stockholder of a corporation and the interest of the corporation is opposed to or affected by the faithful performance of official duty.
That said, with regard to C5, Villar’s said that at the very least, there was a “confluence” of interest, but not “conflict”.
On November 1999, the DOJ wrote that “the acquisition by the government of Villar properties for right of way, does not fall within the constitutional prohibition under Sec. 14, Article VI. The acquisition is but a necessary consequence of the exercise by TRB and DPWH of its power to condemn private property for public use subject to the provisions of existing law”.
Manny Villar was in violation of these following laws:
- The 1987 Constitution, specifically Article VI, section 12 and 14;
- Republic Act 6713, Section 7, which prohibits acts and transactions:
Public officials and employees shall not directly or indirectly have financial or material interest in any transaction requiring approval of their office.
- Republic Act 6713, Section 9:
“Divestment: A public official or employee shall avoid conflicts of interest at all times. When a conflict of interest arises he shall resign from his position in any private business enterprise withinin 30 days from assumption of office and/or divest himself of his shareholding or interest within sixty days from such assumption.”
Villar Properties along C5 Road Extension:
Villar Properties where overpriced. 33x or 3,3000% or 4x or 400%
Here is a comparative Summary:
- Villar used his position in government to change alignment of planned C5 Road extension, by proposing, initiating, and funding the contruction of the Las Pinas-paranaque Link Road and the C5 Road extension project;
- As Chair of Senate Committee on Finance and as Senate President caused appropriation of public funds for Las Pinas-Paranaque Link and C5 Road Extension project.
- Inserted 200M into the 2008 National Budget for project, including payment for road-right of way.
- Villar falsified BIR Certifications on zonal valuation;
- Villar caused the government to incur unnecessary and additional expenditures: PHP3,764,799,130.35 plus loss of PHP1.85B already paid by the government for the acquisition of lands to be used as road-right-of-way of the original C5 Road Extension Project.
- Villar failed to divest his interest in Adelfa Properties, Golden Haven Memorial Park and Brittany Corporation that benefited from the C5 Road Extension as well as Las Pinas-Paranaque Link Road and C5 Road Extension Project.
Location Map of the Original Planned C5 Road Extension:
Here is a letter of Request for the RE-alignment of C5 Road Extension (source Ombudsman Records):
In a memo to the President by then Appointments Secretary Benjamin De Leon recommending re-alignment of C5 Extension proposed by Manny Villar (source is Ombudsman Records):
“Subject: Request of Bro. Mike Velarde Re: DPWH Road Right of Way Payment/Settlement on C5
2.1 For the toll regulatory board under DPWH Secretary Vigllar to approve the plan jointly submitted by AMVEL Corp of Bro. Mike, ShoeMart, Inc., under Henry Sy and Adelfa, Inc. of Re. Manny Villar,”
This is DPWH’s Reply approving Villar et al’s proposed re-alignment of C5 Road Extension (source Ombudsman Records):
- Early this year, though your letters of 22 January 1998, 23 January 1998, 24 April 1988, and 27 April 1998, you and property owners in the same area sought a realignment of the entrance and exit ramps of the C5 Interchange. This request was approved by the Toll Regulatory Board in its Resolution No. 98-22 on 30 April 1998. This realignment necessited the revision of the plans and drawings for the said interchange. It also required a reassessment of the properties affected by said realignment.
- Signed Gregorio Vigilar, Secretary DPWH and chairman, Toll Regulatory Board.
Here are the lands affected by Realigned C5 Road Ext. Project from Multinational Road to Sucat Road:
Adelfa properties Inc., between 1997 until 2008 says that Manuel B. Villar Jr. owned 52% while Cynthia A. Villar owned 48%.
In the loan agreement for RROW payment of the Original Planned C5 Road Extension the project profile of Las Pinas-Paranaque Link Road cites that the proponets of the plan were Manuel B. Villar, Jr. and Cong. Cynthia A. Villar:
Securities and Exchange Commission documents reveal that Golden Haven memorial Park is 92% owned by Adelfa Properties, Inc.
The government paid 137M for 13 lots that were on the Right of Way. 85M is still unpaid by the Government.
On the question of zonal value that Villar answered there wasn’t any overpriced deal the opposition countered as incorrect. Villar used wrong zonal valuation:
[Villar used wrong Zonal Valuation]
and how about the BIR Certification?
Based on testimony, the DBM didn’t know of the PHP200M budget insertion:
Mr. Francisco: “Okay, Now, were you able to discuss this PHP200M redundant appropriation with your department secretary?
Mr. Tayo: I still remember when we received the list for the 2008 budget. Nakita po naming iyon na mayron ngang similarity iyong release na PHP200M. So ang pagka-alam po ng Department, especially the National Capital Region being the implementer of projects within Metro Manila, medyo hindi ho naming alam iyong another PHP200M. Only the first 200M ang alam naming. In most likelihood, even the department, hindi rin po nila alam yung another 200M, your Honor.
Mr. Francisco: What was the reaction of Secretary Ebdane when he learned about this redundant P200M item in the 2008 budget?
Mr. Tayo: “Ang pagkadinig kop o noon, sabi n’ya “Hindi ika natin problema iyan.” Meaning, hindi naming alam. The DPWH doesn’t know about the 200M, Your Honor.
Mr. Francisco: “So, you did not request the office of Senator Manny Villar or Senator Manny Villar to fund an additional 200M for the C5 road Extension project?”
Mr. Tayo: “As far as I know, wala po kasi alam na naming mayroon 200M. The 200M is included as part of the ceiling of the DPWH. Mayroon po kasing corresponding ceiling kada departamento. In the case of NCR, binigyan po kami ng ceiling na ganun lang so we will not exceed – we cannot exceed with that ceiling. The 200M po ang kasama.”
On the point that Villar had been using bulk of his pork barrel for the Las Pinas-Paranaque Link road which would benefit his companies, it was Senator Roxas who asked, “Okay so isn’t that another way of saying, two-thirds or 67% of what the office of Senator Villar recommended to the budget is made up of this one project?”
Mr. Adriano: “Yes your honor.”
When asked if Villar Companies were going to build high end residential buildings in the area traversedby the Las Pinas-Paranaque Link Road, Mr. Adriano replied this,
“Usually, it’s a plan conceptualized by the developer with the help of professional architects and engineers to give basically the developer an idea in paper what he wants to put up in the area.”
People want facts and both sides of the picture. So there are the two sides of the story. Villar says that everything is above board. The opposing team says, clearly the cost of the old C5 plan was 2.678B pesos while the new one cost 6.96B. Documents clearly show that Manny Villar and in some cases his wife, were instrumental in funding the project. Granted, that it is for the constituents of Las Pinas, but then can you blame people from distrusting the Villars where clearly it is the couple who are profiting from this windfall? That’s assuming that the price paid for the properties were at zonal value and not overpriced. It becomes crazier once we look at those properties as being overpriced.
For the sake of argument, on the point that according to Villar the constitution says that only executive officials are required to divest their holdings while he, being in the legislature need only to inform the senate of his possible conflict of interest may be accepted as a fair point.
Yet, given the context that one of the biggest problems we have in the Philippines is the lack of any sense of propriety from our elected officials, can you really say before the people that what Manny Villar did is skirting on the edge of legality? It becomes a point that just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
When you add Republic Act 6713 sections 7 and 9 into the mix, from my layman’s point of view, Manny Villar and his wife were in violation of the law. Manny Villar’s business interests no matter which way you put it, benefitted in some way with the realignment of C5 from the Original Plan. Divesting themselves from their business interest while elected would have done a long way to prove they are honorable.
As Schumey put it, “The Truth is in the Documents.”
Barrio Siete on the one hand says, “Villar’s Throwing Stones in a Glass House!”
Now on the point that this was an election related incident, testimony has been building for months even before Mr. Villar announced his candidacy. With all the infomercials he had been airing even a year before, I suppose “before” is a bit of a “stretch”. Still, does it matter if Villar’s controversy was tackled last month or a week before official campaign season starts?
The fact of the matter is, where there is smoke, there is fire. And there is a lot of smoke coming out of Manny Villar’s involvement with C5. And right now, this is Villar’s test of fire. He must face these charges and surpass them, or his presidency, if elected will be off to a shaky start. That’s not what we need as a nation.
In Manny Villar’s Platform, I had asked you how big a difference there is between Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Manny Villar. He claims to be and expert. He’s the businessman; he’s the entrepreneur and claims the same thing Gloria did in 2004 that expertise will win the day. Lito Banayo identified Manny Villar as, “Her” man.
Does it matter if Villar is GMA-like or GMA’s man?
It does when you look at the context that the past nine years saw our democratic institutions wither and fail. It does when you look at it from the perspective that there is no longer any sense of propriety in members of our Government and such values are tickling down to our private lives.
If we are not careful, we will soon find ourselves in a nation where the notion of a sense of propriety, of duty, of honor, of obligation, of decency is merely myth best forgotten.
I had recently asked, “Should Manny Villar Drop Off the Race?”
Setting aside that Manny Villar is Gloria-like or even if he is the president’s candidate, which btw, is quite plausible since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is known for her throwing everything including the kitchen sink to see which works, a controversy of this magnitude need to be met and settled.
This is Manny Villar who set in motion Mr. Estrada’s impeachment. The charges brought forth before Mr. Villar is nothing to laugh about or to ignore. We cannot have the next President of the Philippines already bog down by corruption charges.
I brought before you, dear reader, Manny Villar’s opinion. I brought before you the opinion of those who laid the charges before him as best as I could. I gave you my opinion on the matter.
In a perfect world, Manny Villar would now be withdrawing his candidacy, out of a sense of propriety to face the charges before him. If he is truly presidential material then here is the test he must pass. Prove his innocence or withdraw from the race. That should be the price of censure. That should be the price of C5 at Tiaga.
An Open Letter To Candidate Gilbert Teodoro
Dear Mr. former Defense Secretary,
Press reports these past several days are quoting you as saying:
• I may not yet be the winning candidate but certainly a “winnable” one.
• What the Philippines needs right now is a little bit of political understanding.
And we can’t have that if some people are stonewalled against others. I think that’s the most important thing that I can do. [Provide] some basis for an achievable working arrangement even between disparate political forces.
• I can give a lot of balance to things. I can look at things in perspective. I know the long-term structural and institutional requirements of the country. And perhaps because of my experience being in both the opposition and the administration, I have the quality of making people work together. I have credibility with a lot of people of diverse political persuasions.
There is no danger whatsoever of the threat groups winning against the government. But to contain them, the military has to be adequately staffed and funded.
• I am her candidate. I don’t have any reason to doubt that, and if, assuming for the sake of argument, I am not, still I am the standard-bearer [of the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD] and if I lose I will only have myself to blame. I am here, I am the standard-bearer, I should make the most of it. If I don’t win, that is my problem.
• My relationship with the President is professional.
Whether there is distance, whether there is closeness, at the end of the day, it’s my decision that counts. .
• (On reports that the President’s husband was supporting rival Sen. Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party) I don’t care. That’s beyond me.
Given both your academic credentials and your experience in the legislative and legislative branches of government, I feel, almost, that you are the best pick for the presidency.
Never mind your cellar level ratings.
But one major fact erodes if not destroys your credibility, and many think, your fitness to be President:
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
Your support for her and inability to see her sins destroy any whit of credibility you aspire for. Sure you’ve uttered the line that you wo’t stand in the way of charge that will hopund her after she steps down from poffice, if she does at all.
Where were you when YOUR government was arming the Ampatuans?
Where were yuou when the 57 innocents were murdered in Maguindanao?
Where was your voice when your President brazenly attempted the Mindanao sell-of via the MoA-AD?
Where were you when the mother of all scams, the NBN-ZTE deal was attempted?
Where were you when the Abu Sayyaf was on its kidnapping and killing sprees and while the MILF continues to hold our country at gunpoint?
Your solution, like your patron, is to simply throw more public money at the insurgency problem (all the while failing to say how a peaceful political settlement will be achieved) .
There quite other issues.
But just let me add a final point:
You say your relationship with Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is just “professional”.
So pera-pera lang. Di bale na ang Bayan.
Thanks but no thanks po. 2010 is not simply about Filipinos looking for competent leadership,
IT’S ABOUT GMA AND THE INJUSTICE AND CORRUPTION DRIVEN MIS-GOVERNANCE SHE HAS VISITED UPON OUR LAND.
Consider this scenario:
You win and your boss, Gloria, takes the post of House Speaker. Hell she even wants to appoint her own Chief-Justice-In-Waiting.
What will you have Filipinos do?
The Philippine Dasily Inquirer now quotes Mr. Teodoro as telling a Davao Del Norte gathering:
What’s important is I will win the elections.
The speculations that many administration legislators are forsaking the ruling Lakas-Kampi-CMD for other parties whose candidates are seen to have a better chance of winning in the May elections are just rumors.
I will be included in the top 3 in the surveys (once the campaign period kicks off next month).
Of course winning the election is what’s important.
I hope you’re not saying Sir ‘Gibo’ that your operators will do that at all costs.
Pray tell Filipinos, only 5% of whom give you a thumbs up, how that’ll happen cleanly.
Sige nga po?
Face The Music
The presentation of evidence and the sharing of testimony in an investigation or trial are not mere exercises in establishing guilt or proving innocence, but the realization of justice. There is no hiding from – and there is no escaping – justice. The laws of the land, and the institutions that enforce and secure justice for all, exist without partiality to the accused and the accuser. Without regard to power, without partiality to wealth: “justice for all.”
Manny Villar has made it painfully clear (in more ways than one) that he has no intention of facing his accusers in the Senate. At the very root of this, Villar says, is politics: that ever since his survey numbers shot up, the C5 controversy is used against him to pull him down. For all intents and purposes, Villar is not being asked to face the chamber to shoot himself in the foot, but to establish and administer the very notion of justice and the system that ensures it: to prosecute the guilty, to uphold the rights of the innocent, and to keep society in harmony.
By boycotting the Senate hearings, Sen. Villar obstructs a lofty goal that is within the reach of citizens if they strive for it enough: justice.
Villar chooses, instead, to explain the C5 imbroglio to the public, to elicit the sympathy and belief of the citizens to vindicate him and clear his name. As a citizen, my door is open for Mr. Villar and I am ready to entertain his grievances, but I cannot administer justice in behalf of the institution that seeks to investigate him and to make sure that justice is done. I do not have the power, I do not have the obligation, and the single vote that he may elicit from his calls for sympathy will not exonerate him or prove his innocence. The public awaits Villar to take his stand in the Senate and to explain his side to his colleagues regardless of flak or political consequence; not because it will hurt his ratings, but because it can close the issue once and for all.
There are more important things in politics than Villar’s survey ratings, like transparency and equity, and the confidence we have in our government officials to serve the public unconditionally and without the ulterior motive of personal gain. Even the most guilt-ridden of petty criminals will cry out for their innocence on the desk of a police officer. What more, then, for a sitting Senator who is asked to face his colleagues?
From a viewpoint of guilt and innocence, Mr. Villar has nothing to fear: a dialogue or investigation serves nothing more than the purpose of affirming either guilt or innocence. There is no reason for Mr. Villar to be afraid, even, of collateral damage to survey ratings: a man who occupies such an esteemed position should realize that truth is far more important than percentages in surveys. More than that, though, a bribe – if Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile is to be believed – is an affront to the notion of justice itself.
Mr. Villar, embroiled in the C5 fiasco, stands accused of exerting his political and economic influence so that his properties may benefit from the C5 realignment, resulting in his corporations’ monetary gain. That injustice has yet to be proven true or false, which is what the Senate is set and obliged to do. The good Senator cannot address an injustice with another injustice: by wearing the ring of Gyges, and rendering himself not responsible and without consequence to something he is accused of, without the benefit of him airing his side of the story and presenting his evidence in the venue accorded to him.
Manny Villar may not like the people investigating him. Manny Villar may not like the people accusing him. He may not even believe in the shared notions of justice that maybe we can all agree with. Yet for all his billions, his survey ratings, and his power he is not above the Senate, he is not above the law, and he is not above justice. For him to continue to hide behind the cloak of whatever he seeks to defend him, and for him to pin this all on personal vendetta and the threat against his political ambitions, is nothing short of wrong.
Plato writes that the wise man should rule because he understands what is good. I appeal to the wisdom of Senator Villar to understand that good: to face the music, to respond to the accusations leveled against him. It is there where the road to justice begins, and he should see through it – as we all do – to the very end.
‘Sipag at tiyaga’ in applied politics
By Solita Collas-Monsod
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:05:00 01/23/2010
THIS CAN BE considered the continuing saga of Sen. Manny Villar’s efforts to diffuse the ethics and misconduct charges against him. If it were put into music, two alternating refrains would have to be sung: if-at-first-you-don’t-succeed-try-try-again (or maybe sipag at tiyaga), and curses-foiled again.
In the first scene, Villar tries to impugn the integrity of the Senate ethics committee, which was about to investigate charges brought against him by Sen. Jamby Madrigal regarding the C-5 Extension Project. He delivers a privilege speech on the Senate floor calling the ethics committee a kangaroo court whose members were mostly “presidentiables” out for his blood. He states that he will not appear before the committee but will answer the charges before the Senate on the Senate floor.
Unfortunately for him, ethics committee chair Sen. Panfilo Lacson calls what proved to be Villar’s bluff, and moves that the Senate constitute itself into a Committee of the Whole (COW) with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile as chair, and take over jurisdiction over the Madrigal complaint from the ethics committee. The motion is approved by the Senate. (Curses. Foiled.)
Nothing daunted (if at first you don’t succeed), Villar, who it appears doesn’t want to be investigated by the COW either, makes his next move: he goes to the Supreme Court, together with Senators Nene Pimentel, Joker Arroyo, Francis Pangilinan and Pia and Alan Cayetano, to ask the Court first for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and eventually a permanent injunction to stop the COW from continuing its investigation. The reason? They don’t like the rules under which the investigation is to be conducted (this, even though Alan Cayetano’s amendments to those rules had been adopted).
Unfortunately again for Villar, the Supreme Court refuses to cooperate—the desired TRO is not issued, and the COW proceedings continue. (Curses. Foiled again.) Following its Preliminary Inquiry Report, which finds that the documentary evidence so far submitted by Madrigal appears to constitute credible substantial evidence against Villar (sidebar: one of the 12 senators who adopted this report was Sen. Loren Legarda), the COW holds a Preliminary Conference, followed by 12 adjudicatory hearings from June to October 2009.
So Villar now tries passive resistance. (Sipag at tiyaga?) He attends none of those hearings. Instead, he brings his case “to the people,” defending himself in the media, despite Enrile’s friendly warning that the COW cannot evaluate evidence or testimony that is not presented to it.
In any case, the evidence presented against Villar is overwhelming—more than 900 exhibits—documentary (irrefutable—composed of official documents), as well as testimonies of DPWH, Senate and budget officials. The evidence is also very damning as I have seen for myself, having read the COW Report, which is both exhaustive and objective.
But I get ahead of myself. The adjudicatory hearings end in the middle of October, and Senate President Enrile targets the end of December to come up with the COW’s findings and recommendations.
At which point, Senator Villar plays what could be considered a trump card: On Nov. 19, barely a month after the hearings are terminated and with no report yet in sight, 12 senators (including Villar) file a resolution to dismiss the Madrigal complaint and to clear him of all the charges. Let us not underestimate the significance of this move: For a committee report to be reported out and considered in plenary, it needs to be signed by a majority (12, because the Senate has only 23 members now). So if 12 already signed a resolution clearing Villar, that means that only 11 were left to sign the COW report—and therefore the COW report would not even see the light of day. Aborted. Defanged. Neutralized.
(An interesting sidelight: The Villar 12 resolution reportedly should not have included Villar’s name. It was Trillanes’ signature that was supposed to be the 12th. But Trillanes reportedly refused to sign it, and so Villar perforce had to add his signature—kind of reducing the resolution’s effectivity, because in effect Villar was clearing himself.)
Unfortunately again for Villar, he underestimates Juan Ponce Enrile’s mettle. Badly. Enrile, enraged by the underhandedness of the move, declares the resolution out of order, saying that the time to bring it up is when the COW report is finished and not a minute before. In any case the issue becomes moot, because the Villar 12 almost immediately become the Villar 11. Jinggoy Estrada withdraws his name from the resolution—apparently he was asked to sign under false pretenses, because he was given to understand that it would not be released until the COW report came out. Curses. Foiled again.
Back to the trenches for Villar. And this time every effort is made to prevent the COW report from getting the 12 signatures necessary—including threatening Enrile with removal from his position unless he plays ball.
Here again, failure for Villar. Enrile—say what you will about him—doesn’t scare easy. He’s been there, done that. And 12 senators sign the report.
Villar carries out his threat (try and try again). He can’t get the numbers. (Curses. Foiled again.)
Count them folks. Six tries. Six flops. Will Villar make a seventh? We will know on Monday. Is he guilty of the charges? It certainly looks that way. But we’ll save that for later.
Parsing Villar, self-proclaimed Trapo
Doubtless I am fighting a moot, not to mention lonely, semantic battle, but, to my mind, there are few examples that better illustrate the unwieldiness of political bywords than “trapo”. A contraction of “tradpol”, which itself is a contraction of “traditional politician”, it has found its way into popular vocabulary as a term of unequivocal opprobrium. Even the most cursory examination, however, would reveal that “trapo” is underpinned by a problematic assumption. It is reasonable enough to posit that there exists in the political realm a specific set of traditions, which might be tentatively defined as practices that are formalized, usually de facto, for the purpose of ensuring their repetition, and, by such repetition, acquire the sanction of perpetuity—this is, after all, true of any given arena of human activity—but “trapo” implies that these traditions are always already detrimental to the general public.
This is not to deny that there are bad politicians, but configuring the ills of the state along such simplistic lines as “traditional” and “non-traditional” is, in my opinion, ultimately unproductive—consider, as a parallel example, how thoroughly demonized “politics” has become, given how it has been indiscriminately used as a synonym for engagement in symbolic battles over trivialities, or for poorly cloaked self-aggrandizement, as might be sensed in the phrase “politically motivated”.
One might also wish to think about how unfair “trapo” is to the rag, which, if a scrap of cloth, at least has the ability to sop up messes—hardly a description that can be applied to the many venal “honorables” that haunt government offices everywhere in these islands. Is the negative connotation perhaps inadvertently revelatory of a widespread aversion to cleanliness, and, by extension, godliness?
In any case, that “trapo” tends to confuse rather than to clarify is easy enough to demonstrate. Last year, during an interview of presidential candidate Manny Villar by veteran journalist Cheche Lazaro for Probe Profiles, the issue of “traditional politics” was brought up, and his response is worth quoting at length, in all its convolutedness:
But what is traditional? Yun ang gusto ng tao and inihalal ka ng tao demokrasya kasi tayo. And kung nagustuhan ka ng tao, yun yung sistema natin. At yun ang tradition. Di lamang tradition yan. Yun ang sistema natin. So, hindi ko maintindihan yung salitang traditional siya. In fact, ako nagdududa ako pag may nagsabing non-traditional. Baka naman mali yung kampaya niya. Pero ibig ko lang sabihin, yung mga nagsasabi ng ganyan, either di naintindihan yung ating sistema ng gobyerno o nagsisinugaling siya.
…Kung traditional yung pagkampanya, traditional. Pero kung sa objective at nagawa, hindi siguro traditional. Dahil siguro bilang naging Speaker of the House and Senate President, tayo lang naman ang nakagawa niyan post war. And kahit papaano naman, may mga nagawa na tayo ng nakaraan na maipagmamalaki ko naman. Nakatulong sa ating mga kababayan. In that sense, hindi ako traditional. Kaya kung ang kampanya, traditional yan kasi that’s the only way you will win pero du’n sa performance mo, dun na nagkakaiba. Because du’n sa performance mo, may magandang performance, may hindi. May hinahangaan, may hindi. Yung hindi, kung karamihan, mababa ang grade, ika nga, yun ang pangkaraniwan, ikaw ang exceptional.
Villar himself is confusing, of course: if he does not understand or disagrees with the concept of “trapo”, how did the lines “Akala mo trapo/Yun pala katropa mo“, an assertion that he is not traditional, come to find their way into one of his campaign jingles? (An extended discussion of his discomfiting slipperiness may be found on Blog Watch.) Still, the idea that tradition is rooted in what the people generally desire is not without merit—traditions are consensually established, anyway—and thus it can be said that Villar is a trapo in that he believes he can deliver what the people want.
The pertinent question, then, is this: What does Villar think that the people want?
Question: Does Villar think that the people want a president with a clear, reliable platform—that is, a set of declared principles that will guide all policy decisions?
In an interview on The Big Picture with Ricky Carandang, Villar said, “Kasi yung mga plataporma, madaling sabihin ‘yan e. Pagagawa mo lang sa speechwriter mo ang mga plataporma mo, sasabihin mo ‘yan, me-memorize-in mo ‘yan, okay na.” (See 7:01 to 7:10 of the video above.)
This may explain why, despite the so-called “mutual adoption” of platforms that took place between the Nacionalista Party and the leftist Makabayan coalition, the platform is nowhere to be found on the Nacionalista Party web site, or on any of Villar’s official web sites.
It should be no surprise, therefore, that his attendance at public forums has been notoriously spotty. As he said to Carandang, “Nakikita ko na ‘yung mga forums na ‘yan, parang…parang nakakasayang lang ng oras.” (See 8:23 to 8:28 of the video above.)
Question: Does Villar think that the people want a president who tells the truth?
Asked if it was true that he had benefited from the construction of Daang Hari—a road that was opened in 2004 and links together Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Laguna, and Cavite—because it courses through seven or eight subdivisions that his various real estate companies had built, Villar told ABS-CBN reporter Ted Failon that, “Akala lamang nila, pag-aari po natin, at hindi pa nga ako nababayaran ng gobyerno ng right-of-way nila. Iniimbita ko po kayo, at sasamahan ko po kayo. Papatunayan ko sa inyo na hindi ako nakinabang diyan.” (See 1:53 to 2:03 of the video above.)
Failon took him up on the challenge, and found that Daang Hari passed by a whopping 23 of Villar’s developments in the area. It may be that Villar has yet to be paid by the government for right-of-way, but that is an ancillary issue at best—the point is that he was caught on television telling an outright lie.
Question: Does Villar think that the people want a president who will not spend more than he and his allies can legally and ethically recoup once he is installed in office?
According to a study by Nielsen Media Research, Villar had already spent about PhP325 million from May 2008 to October 2009 on media alone.
There can be no doubt that he is the biggest spender among the current crop presidential candidates. He told Reuters back in March 2009 that, “If you can’t even raise one billion pesos, why even run?” and so it can be safely assumed that this is the minimum amount he is prepared to spend.
How does a president with an annual salary that does not even reach one million pesos earn one billion back over a six-year term? Is this not a losing proposition for any entrepreneur, especially one with the much-vaunted experience of Villar?
Manolo Quezon asked in his January 21 Philippine Daily Inquirer column, “Does [Villar’s quest for] public office mean that money is merely a means to an end or is it public office that is merely a means to an end?” The Philippine Star columnist Billy Esposo, on the other hand, has warned that “the biggest campaign spender can also be the worst possible plunderer“.
He also had this to say to Reuters: “With me, what you see is what you get. With some candidates, you’ll have to ask, who’s behind you? They say there is one golden rule, he who has the gold rules.”
Was that an admission that he will buy his way into the highest office in the land?
To recapitulate: Villar, a self-proclaimed trapo, thinks that he can give the people what they want. If his statements are any indication, however, he obviously believes that people do not want a president who (a) has a platform, (b) tells the truth, or (c) spends within reasonable limits.
In view of the foregoing, there can only be one possible answer to a Villar presidency.