El Shaddai

Bro. Mike to announce presidential bet on Saturday

Bro. Mike to announce presidential bet on Saturday
By Sheila Crisostomo and Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – El Shaddai leader Mike Velarde said yesterday he would reveal on Saturday the presidential candidate his group would support in the May 10 polls.

In an interview at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Intramuros, Manila, Velarde said the El Shaddai Council of Elders has been evaluating the track records of leading presidential bets.

He however refused to give a hint who between frontrunners Senators Manuel Villar Jr. and Benigno Aquino III he would endorse.

Velarde and officials of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, led by chairman Donald Dee, went to the Comelec yesterday to meet with poll officials.

Dee said they want to help the Comelec ensure a peaceful and credible election.

Meanwhile, Aquino disclosed that he and his sisters had met with Iglesia ni Cristo executive minister Eduardo Manalo thrice and was given a chance to discuss his platform and other issues.

His running mate, Sen. Manuel Roxas II, also had a meeting with INC leaders where he was asked about his program of government.

Talks are circulating that INC leaders are no longer considering Villar and that their choice had been narrowed down between Aquino and administration candidate Gilberto Teodoro Jr.

He admitted courting the votes of religious groups but it would be up to various sectors supporting them to make the announcement.

“My sisters were with me when I met him. It was also our chance to say thank you because there were prayers offered by INC for my mother’s health and also after she passed away so that was the perfect opportunity (to meet them),” Aquino said.

He said they were also able to discuss concerns about poll automation and other issues the Comelec had not addressed.

Aquino and Roxas said they hoped to get the endorsements of at least three big groups by next week.

Roxas debunked text messages being sent that the INC was looking for the “highest bidder,” saying these were only black propaganda.

Noynoy vows to void all unlawful appointments

Noynoy vows to void all unlawful appointments
By Delon Porcalla
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III vowed yesterday to nullify all the illegal appointments made by President Arroyo during the election ban.

Aquino said the so-called “midnight appointments” of Mrs. Arroyo could be invalidated since most of them are in the executive department.

He cited Article VII Section 14 of the Constitution, which provides that an incoming president, in this case the successor of Mrs. Arroyo, has up to three months or 90 days or until August to invalidate all the unlawful acts of his predecessor.

“I intend to exercise that prerogative under Article VII Section 14 of the Constitution where we have up to 90 days to void all of those illegal appointments,” he told The STAR, when asked whether he will void the unlawful or whimsical appointments of Mrs. Arroyo.

“We intend to govern in the opposite manner of President Arroyo’s governance. People who will serve with us should have that philosophy of good governance. They (GMA appointees) have to subscribe to our good governance policy,” he added.

“We will also study and judge her appointments on a case-to-case basis, it will be done fairly and purely on the merits,” he explained.

He said that if elected, he will create a commission that will investigate and “put closure” on all of Mrs. Arroyo’s deals for the last nine years, or until the end of her term on June 30.

Aquino earlier cautioned the Supreme Court against standing by its March 17 decision allowing the President to appoint the next chief justice despite the election ban, saying Congress could provide a check and balance to its abuses.

He pointed out that initiating an impeachment proceeding is an option of any chief executive, including himself if he wins the presidency, and that this is a legal recourse that could somehow correct erroneous rulings.

“We have a check and balance on cases like this. The legislature has the power of impeachment, if they (lawmakers) feel there are grounds to impeach an official from a constitutional body. That is open to any president,” he told newsmen.

“I think we have adequate checks and balances. We have to be governed by our system of laws. Here, the SC made a 180-degree turn from its established doctrine. Nothing to my mind had changed through 1998 to the present that would warrant a 180-degree shift.”

An impeachment proceeding can be initiated against officials of a constitutional body, like the SC, especially if its members committed a “culpable” violation of the 1987 Constitution, in this case amending a provision despite an appointments ban two months before the polls.

A culpable violation of the Constitution is one of the main grounds for impeachment. SC justices could only be removed from office through impeachment or they will have to serve until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70.

“We need the new Congress having to organize itself to determine whether or not there is a need for the impeachment process. That is one of the avenues,” Aquino, a former three-term Tarlac congressman, explained further.

Impeachment of the chief justice who will accept the appointment from Mrs. Arroyo, including the nine justices who voted to allow the appointment despite a constitutional ban, would not be far-fetched, especially if it can be proven that they violated the law.

“If it can be proven the decision was not done based on sound legal principles, that might be a ground for impeaching an impeachable officer,” he said, referring to an Arroyo appointment.

Aquino joined the critics of the SC, which allowed the President to appoint the Chief Justice despite an election ban, saying amending the 1987 Constitution is not one of the SC’s mandates.

“The last time I checked, amending the Constitution is not among its (SC) functions. They have no business amending the Charter,” he said, referring to the SC ruling giving the JBC authority to submit its shortlist of nominees to Mrs. Arroyo.

He said it was a “180-degree turn” to the Vallarta doctrine that the SC ruled in 1998, when it nullified the midnight appointment of former President Fidel Ramos to the judiciary, but which former Chief Justice Andres Narvasa rebuffed, citing the constitutional prohibition.

Aquino said that while they will have to respect the SC verdict, no matter how unacceptable it is, the recourse at this point is to file a motion for reconsideration and possibly seek clarification regarding the prevailing jurisprudence.

Noynoy resumes campaign

Aquino said he would continue to solicit the support of voters after the Holy Week.

He was with El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde for the Easter celebration yesterday.

“We discussed concerns regarding the (poll) automation,” he said.

Aquino will return to Bulacan as he resumes his campaign sorties after taking a Lenten break.

LP vice presidential bet Sen. Manuel Roxas II expects their rivals to do all they could, including an increase in dirty tricks to be able to cut their lead in the surveys.

LP campaign manager Florencio Abad said the party could not wait for the real administration candidate to come out so that the people could decide more wisely in the coming elections.

Abad stressed they were not panicking over the reported alliance between President Arroyo and Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. even if this would mean the administration’s machinery could be used for the NP bet.

“In fact, we already want the (battle lines) to be drawn clearly because we want the fight to be man-to-man already. Opposition versus the administration. I think the natural gravitation of a presidential race is a bipolar race, we already know who the real opposition candidate is, so we’re just waiting for the real administration bet to come out,” Abad said.

Abad said Mrs. Arroyo would not want Aquino to win because he was already planning to put up a commission to look into the allegations of anomalies against the outgoing president.

He was also expecting that allies of the President would desert Lakas-Kampi-CMD to join Villar’s NP. With Aurea Calica

Bro. Mike Velarde keeps bets guessing

Bro. Mike Velarde keeps bets guessing
By Leila Salaverria, Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The top candidates came a-courting, but the object of their entreaties—influential TV evangelist Bro. Mike Velarde of El Shaddai—continued to keep them in suspense.

A 12-hour Easter vigil on an open field bursting with songs, dances and hymns of praise for the Risen Christ ended at 7 a.m. Sunday with no clear word from the leader of the Catholic charismatic group on which candidates he would support in the May 10 elections.

Velarde, whose blessing is coveted by politicians, insisted he had yet to make up his mind, saying he would decide a week before the polls.

“Many are running for the presidency and vice presidency … Up to now, we are still studying and looking for what will do us good and will not harm us,” Velarde said before a crowd estimated by police at 400,000 in a sprawling private compound called “Amvel City” in Parañaque City.

Three suitors, all aspiring to be president, came at different hours to address the crowd—Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party, Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP), and Joseph Estrada of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

Some of Velarde’s remarks appeared to tickle the hearts of the NP candidates, such as his references to the need to eradicate poverty, which is at the center of Villar’s campaign slogans.

Villar and his party mates were the last to speak. Before they did, Velarde asked the crowd to blow out their candles, plunging the vast assembly into darkness and leaving the stage, where Villar and his colleagues stood, the only area awash with light.

Loudest cheers

Villar earlier this year got what some thought was a virtual endorsement from Velarde when the two spoke at a Valentine’s Day rally of El Shaddai members in Hong Kong.

At the Parañaque vigil, Villar appeared to be the most confident among the three presidential candidates. But it was Estrada who got the loudest cheers.

Administration candidate Gilbert Teodoro Jr. did not attend. El Shaddai officials said he had been to a previous rally of the group.

“That’s why we are sure that the surveys will change,” Estrada told reporters after his 15-minute extemporaneous speech that had the crowd laughing and cheering “Erap! Erap!”

In interviews, Aquino and Villar said they would leave it up to Velarde and the El Shaddai leadership to make the announcement on whom they would endorse.

Villar said he felt that Velarde had practically endorsed his candidacy during the Hong Kong rally. “But I still want the announcement to come from them,” he said.

“I don’t want to speculate. I am just happy that I was welcomed here and we were able to share points of views,” Aquino said.

Similar themes

Velarde told the crowd that he was looking for a leader who could pull the divided country towards one direction, and was independent and not dictated on by others.

The only candidate that received a clear endorsement was the Buhay party-list group, which has the El Shaddai leader as its fifth nominee.

Velarde, who later changed into a hot pink blazer and clutched an orange microphone, said there was a need to stamp out poverty.

At one point, he said that he left business because his aim was not to enrich himself, adding that had he wanted to be rich, he would have stayed a businessman—themes similar to those espoused by Villar in his campaign.

Velarde even referred to a “condominium unit in heaven” for followers of Christ. Villar is a real estate magnate.

Villar came with running mate Loren Legarda and senatorial candidates Pia Cayetano, Susan Ople, Gwen Pimentel and Ramon Mitra.

Velarde said he had known Villar from way back. “But that doesn’t mean I’m endorsing him … Of course, he has the advantage because I know him personally,” he told reporters.

Aquino was the first politician to arrive, accompanied by his sisters Ballsy, Pinky and Kris, who came with husband James Yap. Running mate Mar Roxas was also with them.

Velarde said there was no bloc voting in El Shaddai, although he said many members chose to follow his lead when he proclaimed his support for a candidate.

El Shaddai leader undecided over who to endorse

El Shaddai leader undecided over who to endorse
By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — El Shaddai leader Bro. Mike Velarde on Sunday said that he has yet to make up his mind who to support in the 2010 elections.

In his message during the group’s overnight Easter vigil, Velarde noted that there were many people running for president and vice president. He said himself is not yet sure who to back.

“Hanggang ngayon tayo po ay nagsusuri at hinahanap natin ang makakabuti (Up until now we are studying and looking for what is good),” he said. But some of his statements referring to eradicating poverty seemed to tickle Nacionalista Party candidates who attended the vigil.

Earlier during the vigil, Bishop Teodoro Bacani, Velarde’s spiritual adviser, said that the El Shaddai leader has not yet endorsed any candidate and was not expected to decide Saturday night.

Bacani, who arrived at the El Shaddai Easter vigil in Paranaque, said he talked with Velarde on Friday, and the latter clarified that he was still making up his mind on who to support in the May 10 polls.

When asked who Velarde seemed to be favoring, Bacani just laughed.

Comelec: Party-list bets have to belong to sectors

Comelec: Party-list bets have to belong to sectors
By Leila B. Salaverria, Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Party-list nominees should “belong” to the marginalized sector they seek to represent, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Thursday said in a resolution aimed at preventing political opportunists and proxies from using the party-list system.

The nominees should also have a proven track record in their advocacy, the Comelec said.

In the resolution, the Comelec en banc set the parameters for the qualifications of party-list nominees, which would give citizens and groups grounds to petition for the disqualification of questionable nominees before the poll body.

A nominee is “one who belongs to the marginalized and underrepresented sector/s, the sectoral party, organization, political party or coalition he seeks to represent,” the resolution said.

The nominees should prove that they have “active participation” in the advancement of their party-list group’s causes.

Speeches, articles

Thus, the nominees and the group have to submit “documentary evidence,” such as speeches, declarations, written articles, and other positive actions showing the nominees’ “adherence to the advocacies of the party-list,” the resolution said.

Comelec officials said they issued the guidelines to clarify the “very broad” provisions on the party-list definition that have allowed just anyone to claim to be a nominee of a marginalized group.

Some party-list groups and nominees have no business in claiming to be a member of the marginalized sector, according to Commissioner Armando Velasco.

Velasco said half of the 187 party-list groups on the official ballot might not be for marginalized sectors.

Asked if there was anyone on the list who could be disqualified because of the new guidelines, he said “there could be some.”

Due process

Velasco declined to name names, saying that these nominees deserve due process and that he does not want to preempt the commission’s decisions.

He said some groups might challenge the Comelec resolution on party-list nominees, but he pointed out that the poll body was empowered during the election period to come up with such rules.

Party-list nominations recently came under scrutiny after some high-profile political figures were revealed to be nominees of marginalized sectors.

President’s Arroyo’s eldest son, outgoing Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, is the No. 1 nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy, a group that claims to represent security guards.

Bro. Mike Velarde, leader of the El Shaddai Charismatic Movement, is the fifth nominee of Buhay. The first nominee is his son Mariano Michael.

Selfish

Ferdinand Rafanan, chief of the Comelec legal department, condemned the personalities who accepted nominations from party-list groups just to be able to sit in Congress and enjoy the perks of their position.

Rafanan described these nominees as “selfish.”

The party-list system, Rafanan said, was established to give voice to the underrepresented sectors of society. “It should be the powerless themselves who should represent their group. Otherwise the purpose is not served,” he said.

The Comelec’s citizens arm noted that some party-list groups were allowed to run in the May 2010 polls even though there were questions surrounding their legitimacy.

“This calls for a review because there are so many nominees who are not marginalized,” said Henrietta de Villa, chair of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.

In a report posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines website, De Villa lamented the accreditation of bogus organizations.

She said these groups were crowding out groups that truly represent the marginalized and were providing an easy way for traditional politicians to get into Congress.

Scrutinize nominees

In an earlier interview, De Villa encouraged voters to scrutinize the nominees of party-list groups to ensure that they would be voting for those who really speak for the marginalized and the underrepresented.

She said voters, in choosing a party-list group, should exercise the same zeal as when they are selecting their candidates for the presidency.

Even if party-list wins…

“They should invest some time and research on candidates. That includes the party-list,” she had said. A Pulse Asia survey released last month showed that 69 percent of voters were unaware of the party-list system.

The resolution said groups seeking to disqualify nominees should file their petitions with the Comelec clerk. The commission en banc will study the petition and decide on its merits.

Nominees found to have failed to meet the criteria would not be allowed to take seats in the House of Representatives should their party-list group win in the May 10 polls.

“If the evidence of guilt is strong, the proclamation of the nominee shall be suspended notwithstanding the fact that his group or organization received the winning number of votes in such election,” the resolution said.

Each party-list group is entitled to a maximum of three seats in the House, but the groups are required to submit the names of at least five nominees by March 26.

The party-list groups have until this Friday to submit their nominees to the Comelec.

Kontra Daya calls on public to report dubious party-list groups, nominees

Kontra Daya calls on public to report dubious party-list groups, nominees
Kontra Daya

The anti-fraud and election monitoring group Kontra Daya today called on the public to report to its hotlines the dubious party-list groups and nominees that they know of.

Kontra Daya convener Fr. Joe Dizon said exposing the questionable party-list groups and nominees is important in preventing the bastardization of the party-list system, which is supposedly meant to empower marginalized and underrepresented sectors.

“These dubious party-list groups and nominees are crowding out the groups that genuinely represent the marginalized and underrepresented,” Dizon said. “Exposing them is an important contribution to getting them out of the way.”

Kontra Daya recently filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) a letter to Chairman Jose Melo, seeking the disqualification of the following party-list groups: Batang Iwas Droga (BIDA), Adhikain ng mga Dakilang Anak ng Maharlika (ADAM), Agbiag Timpuyog Ilocano (AGBIAG), Babae para sa Kaunalaran (BABAE KA), League of Youth for Peace and Development (LYPAD), and Kalahi Advocates for Overseas Filipinos (KALAHI).

BIDA declares in its own website (www.bida.org.ph) that it is “the brainchild of Ephraim Genuino, chairman of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).” PAGCOR, in partnership with the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) and the Department of Education (DepEd), launched BIDA in 2003 as an anti-drug campaign for elementary school students.

ADAM has for its first nominee Energy Undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan, nephew of former Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. Undersecretary Ampatuan has himself declared that he formed ADAM as “(his) own” party-list group, while at the same time denying that it has anything to do with the powerful Ampatuan clan.

AGBIAG, BABAE KA, LYPAD, and KALAHI were identified as in a 2006 memorandum from Malacañang’s Office of External Affairs (OEA) as the main organizations to be supported in a party-list campaign that intended to support “pro-administration” party-list groups and secure for them 9-12 seats in Congress.

The signatories of the letter to Melo cited Sec. 2 of Republic Act No. 7941, also known as the Party-List System Act, which provides that “the State shall promote proportional representation in the election of representatives to the House of Representatives through a party-list system of registered national, regional and sectoral parties or organizations or coalitions thereof, which will enable Filipino citizens belonging to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors, organizations and parties, and who lack well-defined political constituencies but who could contribute to the formulation and enactment of appropriate legislation that will benefit the nation as a whole, to become members of the House of Representatives. Towards this end, the State shall develop and guarantee a full, free and open party system in order to attain the broadest possible representation of party, sectoral or group interests in the House of Representatives by enhancing their chances to compete for and win seats in the legislature, and shall provide the simplest scheme possible.”

They also pointed to the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2001 case Ang Bagong Bayani-OFW Labor Party v. Commission on Elections, et al, which states that a party-list group “must not be an adjunct of, or a project organized or an entity funded or assisted by, the government. By the very nature of the party-list system, the party or organization must be a group of citizens, organized by citizens and operated by citizens. It must be independent of the government. The participation of the government or its officials in the affairs of a party-list candidate is not only illegal and unfair to other parties, but also deleterious to the objective of the law: to enable citizens belonging to marginalized and underrepresented sectors and organizations to be elected to the House of Representatives.”

In the same ruling, the Supreme Court stated that not only the candidate party-list group, but also its nominees, must represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors.

Dizon also noted that several of the party-list groups that have submitted their lists of nominees as of March 22 have nominees that cannot claim to represent marginalized and underrepresented sectors.

The most glaring example, Dizon said, is Ang Galing Pinoy Party-List, which claims to represent security guards and small businessmen. Its first nominee is Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, son of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The group’s second nominee is Dennis Pineda, mayor of Lubao, Pampanga and son of alleged jueteng lord Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda; while the third is Romeo Dungca, mayor of Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Alliance of People’s Organizations (APO) has for its first nominee former Ilocos Sur Rep. Salacnib Baterina, who is currently the president of Bio-Energy Northern Luzon Inc., while its third nominee is Anna Marie Ablan, daughter of Ilocos Norte Rep. Roque Ablan Jr. Bandila (Bagong Bayan na Nagtataguyod ng Demokratikong Ideolohiya at Layunin) Party-List has as its third nominee former actor Juan Miguel “Onemig” Bondoc, who hails from a family of wealthy businessmen and himself owns several businesses including the Benedictine International School of Quezon City. The first nominee of the Alliance of Mindanao Elders (AME) is Alfonso Goking, a councilor of Cagayan de Oro City who is a member of the Lakas-Kampi coalition. The Philippine Coconut Producers Federation (Cocofed) is comprised of both landlords and farmers, as well as businessmen, and counts among its nominees Jose Lobregat, a scion of the wealthy Lobregat clan of Zamboanga, who also owns a cable TV company.

The Sulong Barangay Movement’s first nominee is Herminio Aquino, a half brother of the late Sen. Benigno Aquino Sr. and grand-uncle of presidential candidate Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III. The Aquinos have been among Tarlac’s wealthiest families for several generations.

The Pilipino Association for Country / Urban Poor Youth Advancement and Welfare (PACYAW), which claims to advocate sports development for urban poor youth, has as its first nominee Tourism Assistant Sec. Janet Rita B. Lazatin, a member of the ruling Lakas-Kampi coalition. Its second nominee is businessman and former Los Angeles Consul Reynaldo Pineda.

The fifth nominee of Buhay Hayaan Yumabong (Buhay) Party-List is Mariano “Mike” Velarde, who is not only the leader of the Catholic charismatic group El Shaddai but is also a millionaire who owns Amvel Land Development Corporation. Its first nominee is his son Mariano Michael. Buhay’s other nominees include William Irwin Tieng, whose family controls Solar Sports, and Ma. Carissa Coscolluella, whose family is in the construction business.

“More than a hundred party-list groups were accredited for the May 2010 elections and most of them have yet to submit their lists of nominees,” Dizon said. “We should expect more of these cases. We urge the public to report to Kontra Daya these spurious party-list groups and nominees.”

Kontra Daya may be reached through its hotline 09213953004 and its e-mail address, [email protected] Concerned groups and individuals may also visit its website at www.kontradaya.org.

Bro. Mike asked for C-5 realignment, earned P1.2 billion

Bro. Mike asked for C-5 realignment, earned P1.2 billion
By Evelyn Macairan
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Bro. Mariano “Mike” Velarde has admitted requesting the government to move the position of the C-5 Road so that it would only cause minimal damage to his property.

Velarde was said to have earned P1.2 billion for road right-of-way on his 14-hectare Amvel property.

He reportedly said that it was his right to receive the money because he is the owner of the 14-hectare property.

The El Shaddai leader said that this information was only being released now “because it is only now that I am being asked.”

In fact Velarde’s spokesman, Mel Robles, yesterday said that the El Shaddai servant leader was willing to appear in the Senate inquiry, but did not receive any invitation.

When asked if Velarde would be interested to attend the C-5 hearing in the Senate if it is resurrected in the 15th Congress, Robles declined to comment since this was still “speculation.”

Robles said there was nothing wrong if the head of the El Shaddai requested for a diversion of the C-5 project during the time of former President Fidel Ramos.

“I do not see anything wrong with Bro. Mike’s request to move the construction of the C-5. There is no irregularity. Had Bro. Mike not asked for a diversion, there would be more damage to his property,” he said.

Villar washes hands

Meanwhile, Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. reiterated that he had only good faith in seeking the completion of the C-5 Road.

“I have said so many times that I did not re-align that project, that I only wanted that project to finish,” Villar said over dzRH radio. “I am happy with the revelation of Bro. Mike. Projects like this should be done in other parts of the country.”

Villar was reacting to Velarde’s admission in a TV interview that he was the one who influenced the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) during the Ramos and Estrada administrations not to allow the proposed Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) to pass his property.

The NP bet said he has been bullied and ganged up on by his colleagues at the Senate regarding the issue in their attempt to derail his presidential bid.

He defended himself over accusations that he benefited when he sought the appropriations of P200 million from the 2008 budget to speed up construction of the controversial road.

“There’s a lot of accusations that were thrown at me but the truth is I don’t have anything to do with it. The truth is that it was a very beautiful project,” Villar said in Filipino.

He said more than six million road users from Cavite, Las Piñas and Parañaque as well as those from Makati and Pateros are benefiting from the project, which has been partially opened to motorists recently.

“Now that it has opened, everybody will see that this is a very good project. That they will save travel time, especially for those living in the southern part of Metro Manila,” Villar said.

He also vowed during his campaign sorties to make infrastructure development as one of his major projects once elected as president in May.

He said he envisioned the linking of the country’s two major highways – Southern Luzon and the Northern Luzon expressways – to allow better transport of goods and food crops from major provinces to various destinations and seaports.   – Christina Mendez

Mike Velarde, Manny Villar and their business ties that bind

Mike Velarde, Manny Villar and their business ties that bind
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR
By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star

Mariano “Mike” Velarde, also known as Bro. Mike, tends to be perceived by your Chair Wrecker as being more of a businessman and a politician — who has in fact mulled running for president — rather than as a religious minister.

For perspective, your Chair Wrecker deeply admires the Christianity of Gawad Kalinga’s Tony Meloto and the late Focolare Movement founder, Chiara Lubich. They both epitomize the great commandment of Jesus Christ that “Whatsoever you do to the least of your brethren, you do unto me.”

Contrasting with the Christianity of Tony Meloto and Chiara Lubich, Velarde strikes your Chair Wrecker as being focused more on the brethren with the most rather than those with the least. There have been many who have expressed their views that Velarde appears to be using the least to gain leverage with the most.

Two of the 900 documents in the Senator Manny Villar Senate Ethics Case would show how Mike Velarde has capitalized on his El Shaddai flock. True reproductions of the Villar Ethics Case file, these two documents also show the business ties that bind Mike Velarde and Manny Villar.

The first document that follows is the April 27, 1998 letter of Mike Velarde to the government of former President Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) regarding the C-5 Road Alignment which Velarde wrote not only for his business interest but also for and on behalf of the business interests of Henry Sy of Shoemart fame and then Representative Manny Villar.

Exhibit X April 27, 1998

MR. RAMON DUMAUAL

Officer in Charge

Toll Regulatory Board

19th Floor Strata 100 Bldg.,

Emerald Ave., Pasig

Dear Mr. Dumaual;

We are submitting herewith the final C-5 Road alignment, together with the area computation in accordance with our previous understanding for your immediate approval and implementation.

The group of 3 owners will hire Proconsult the engineering design firm of the original TRB proposed plan, to design the minor revisions. This will ensure the fast approval of our requested change.

Thank you very much.

Very truly yours,

AMVEL LAND DEV. CORP

Signed By: MARIANO Z. VELARDE, President

SM HOLDINGS PROPERTIES

Signed By: ENGR. FILEMON AVELINO

ADELFA PROPERTY INC.

Signed By: ANASTACIO C. ADRIANO, JR., Senior Vice President/General Manager

The second document that follows is the April 27, 1998 (note the same date) memo of Benjamin de Leon, Presidential Assistant for Social Development and Foreign Affairs, to FVR about the Velarde-Sy-Villar transaction with the government. Note how de Leon specifically mentions the name of Rep. Manny Villar in the memo to FVR.

ANNEX 11 Exhibit X

MEMORANDUM FOR H.E. THE PRESIDENT

FROM: The Appointments Secretary/Presidential Assistant for Social Development and Foreign Affairs

SUBJECT: REQUEST OF BRO. MIKE VELARDE RE: DPWH ROAD RIGHT OF WAY PAYMENT/SETTLEMENT ON C-5 (PEA-RENONE BERHAD)

DATE: 27 April 1998

1. May I respectfully convey to His Excellency the request of Bro. Mike Velarde concerning the settlement of issues on the acquisition of Road Right Of Way by DPWH relative to the construction of C-5 Road (Renone-Berhad Package).

2. Based on the recommendations submitted by Bro. Mike Velarde, the following courses of action may be adopted:

2.1 For the Toll Regulatory Board (TRB) under DPWH Secretary Vigilar to approve the plan jointly submitted by AMVEL Corp. of Bro. Mike, ShoeMart, Inc. under Henry Sy and Adelfa, Inc. of Rep. Manny Villar.

2.2 For TRB to appraise the property affected the C-5 Access Roads, toll plaza and the main highway based on the prevailing market price in the vicinity of Sucat Road, Paranaque.

2.3 For TRB to issue an order of payment in order of PEA and DPWH to effect the payment to the affected landowners.

2.4 For PEA to purchase the area between Eastern Access and Spoke of the Toll Plaza covering 22,280 square meters for use by the DPWH in exchange for the DPWH lot along the Coastal Road which was taken-over by PEA.

3. For His Excellency’s consideration.

Signed BENJAMIN D. DE LEON

ANNEX 11-A

The following was the personal handwritten note of FVR at the bottom of the Benjamin de Leon memo:

28 April 1998

To Sec. DPWH & Ch. PEA info ES

Fast-track the remaining issues NLT 30 April 98 re the C5-Coastal Road project in order to alleviate heavy traffic congestion in the area.

Signed: FVR

Don’t you think that this Velarde letter with a big business tycoon and a congressman tied up with it constitutes pressure on the former president to favor their request? Don’t you think that was an inappropriate act for one who claims to be a religious leader? Don’t you think that Villar’s involvement here is a case of conflict of interest regardless if he personally signed the letter to the government or not?

Thus, it came as no surprise to your Chair Wrecker when the Villar camp announced recently that they have already received the endorsement of Mike Velarde. Mike Velarde was evasive about the Villar endorsement but then he too was evasive about his support for Joseph Estrada and Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. If Pope Pius XII had been asked to endorse Adolf Hitler and agreed to do so, it is but natural if he too would be evasive about confirming it.

A very rich man in the US once said that better a friendship founded on business than a business founded on friendship. That of course follows the precept of some businessmen that you’re wise to leave your heart at home when you run your company.

Mike Velarde continues to be viewed by some as a religious leader instead of being a businessman and a politician. He should come clean and clarify if he is really endorsing Manny Villar and if that endorsement is spiritually motivated or an endorsement founded on business and politics.

Chair Wrecker   e-mail   and   website: [email protected] and www.chair wrecker.com