Villar: I will spare no one for graft
The Philippine Star
MANILA, Philippines – Defending himself from the “Villarroyo” tag, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. vowed to spare no one, including President Arroyo, in charging people guilty of graft and corruption.
Villar said that if ever he becomes the new president, he would even “encourage” the prosecution of Mrs. Arroyo after she steps down on June 30 because of the numerous anomalies that have been linked to her during her administration.
The issue of Villar having links with Mrs. Arroyo as well the allegation that he is the real candidate of the administration continue to be among the issues raised against him by his opponents.
He has repeatedly denied these and reiterated that it was he and his NP colleagues who had spearheaded numerous probes against Mrs. Arroyo over the course of her administration.
“I have criticized the President on numerous occasions,” Villar said.
In fact, he said that he would give the President a rating of 4 out of 10 in terms of honesty.
According to Villar, it was the NP that initiated the congressional probes into the “Hello, Garci” issue, the NBN-ZTE deal and the jueteng controversy against the President.
He said the investigations on these issues were done under his term as Senate President and so he gave the go-signal for these to take place.
“I’m not seen as a critic of anybody. That’s my style. I would rather do things than say them,” he said.
“But when I was asked if I agree with the President, maybe a hundred times, I’ve said, I disagree with her,” he added.
The allegations against Villar coming from the Liberal Party and its standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III has been a thorn in his side and has contributed to the drop in his survey ratings.
The LP camp coined the term “Villarroyo” or Villar-Arroyo to describe the alleged alliance between the President and Villar and has stuck with it throughout the campaign period.
Villar and the NP have responded in kind by coming up with the “Aquinorroyo” and “Gloriaquino” tags for Aquino.
The party has alleged that the LP camp has various connections with the Arroyo administration, including Aquino’s relatives in the current government and the presence of former Cabinet members and officials of Mrs. Arroyo in the LP.
Villar also vowed not to support the supposed bid of Mrs. Arroyo for the speakership of the House of Representatives if and when he and the President succeed in their respective bids.
Mrs. Arroyo is running for congresswoman of Pampanga, prompting her critics to suspect that she intends to reclaim power by going after the speakership.
Villar reiterated that the NP would put up its own candidate in order to thwart the alleged bid of Mrs. Arroyo.
Villar: I’m prepared to lose
Although he is determined to win the presidency, Villar also said he is psychologically prepared for the worst in case he loses.
Villar said he has prepared himself for two possibilities, which are winning and losing the presidency.
“You will be surprised, I am prepared to win but I am also prepared to lose. I have had my ups and downs but I have faced them all,” Villar said over the ANC show “Headstart” last Friday.
“If I win, I am ready to run the country on day one. If I lose then I am also prepared. I know that psychologically, I must be prepared,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) yesterday told Villar to “prepare well – for losing.”
“Judging by how his numbers have been sliding consistently, I would say that Sen. Villar is beginning to realize that his millions, and even billions, will not prevent the inevitable,” said PMP spokesman Ralph Calinisan.
Northern Alliance picks Villar
The Northern Alliance in the House of Representatives has chosen to support Villar.
At least 15 of the 21 congressmen present during Friday’s meeting in Baguio City agreed to back Villar, according to Ilocos Sur Rep. Eric Singson, deputy speaker for Northern Luzon of the Lower House.
He said they chose Villar because he promised to help develop Northern Luzon and take care of Ilocanos.
Villar also vowed to develop the industrial and agriculture industries of the North like tobacco and the export processing zones and the extension of the North Luzon Expressway.
In another development, the NP said yesterday that consumers would most likely see an increase in the value added tax (VAT) if Aquino wins in the May elections.
In a statement, the NP noted that the presence of a “VAT block” in the LP is now more evident with the addition of Mrs. Arroyo’s economic adviser, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, to its camp.
“Noynoy is surrounded by the most passionate apostles of increasing the VAT pain. This early it is fair to equate a Noynoy victory with a 15-percent VAT rate,” the NP said. – With Christina Mendez, Sandy Araneta, Artemio Dumlao and Andy Zapata