Bro. Eddie says he was offered Cabinet posts
By Dona Pazzibugan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Evangelist Brother Eddie Villanueva said he was thrice offered key positions in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Cabinet.
Villanueva, who is running for president under the Bangon Pilipinas party, said the offers were made shortly after the 2004 presidential elections and before the “Hello Garci” wiretapping scandal broke out in mid-2005, which placed Ms Arroyo’s 2004 poll victory in some doubt.
According to Villanueva, Ms Arroyo went to see him a couple of weeks after the May 10, 2004 polls offering him a place in her administration as a presidential adviser.
Villanueva, founder and leader of the Jesus is Lord (JIL) sect who was also a candidate for president in 2004, said he declined the offer because he saw it as political horse-trading.
“She thought I was a politician,” he said.
Villanueva said Ms Arroyo was accompanied by then congressmen Michael Defensor (later chief of staff), Alan Cayetano (later senator) and Augusto Syjuco Jr. (later TESDA head).
He said Ms Arroyo returned in July 2004 with her former aide-de-camp, retired Gen. Alberto Braganza, reiterating her offer to take him into her Cabinet. At the time, Ms Arroyo was being accused by her main opposition rival, the late Fernando Poe Jr., of having cheated in the elections.
“I said, ‘I can forget about the election cheating but if you’re sincere, institute general reforms so I can convince the JIL to support you publicly.’ She said she was sincere,” said Villanueva.
“But two days later she shamelessly reappointed (former Comelec commissioner Virgilio) Garcillano. This was long before the Hello Garci expose,” recounted Villanueva.
Villanueva said two days before Ms Arroyo came to him, Poe also went to see him proposing that they “join forces” once they have evidence of electoral fraud. He said the movie star was accompanied by then congressman, later senator, Francis Escudero.
The following year, Villanueva said he was offered the posts of finance secretary and “anticorruption czar” in separate instances by emissaries of the President.
He said he did not take seriously the idea of being finance secretary which was broached to him by the late Jesus Martinez, a commissioner of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
But he gave the next offer brought to him by former Navy Rear Admiral and military intelligence chief Tirso Danga some serious thought because of Danga’s persistence.
“The offer was to be the anticorruption czar,” Villanueva said.
But his talks with Danga fell through after Villanueva gave several “conditions,” among them, that he should be given a free hand to organize a composite armed team and that he would investigate the allegedly anomalous transactions in which the First Couple had been implicated.