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VILLAR DENIES

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VILLAR DENIES

Post  Admin on Wed Feb 03, 2010 6:36 pm

Villar denies benefitting from C-5 Road project Manila Bulletin - Tuesday, February 2

After a long wait, Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Senator Manny Villar finally appeared at the Senate plenary Tuesday afternoon and faced his accusers on the C-5 Road project controversy, declaringthat the report of the Committee of the Whole, which recommended censure for his alleged unethical conduct, was grossly unfair.

In his emotional privilege speech before 15 senators, Villar said he decided to come out to defend his name and honor, which he claimed is being tarnished by his political adversaries using the same recycled issue designed to pull him down and destroy his political career.

"I am saddened that my colleagues continue to destroy and criticize me even without basis and whose only objective is to pull me down," said Villar.

Villar, however, left the Senate plenary hall shortly after delivering his speech, to the dismay of Sen. Jamby Madrigal and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Madrigal, a complainant in the ethics case, said Villar was being unparliamentary and acting as a coward when he left the Senate session hall to avoid answering colleagues on his allegation that he is innocent of the charges.

To describe his situation, Villar said he is being pulled down by his political foes because of his continuous surge in the surveys lately. What is worse, he said, is that our Filipino crab mentality still persists.

"Tayo raw ay parang mga talangka. Pag may isa sa atin ang naka-aangat sa buhay, siya'y pilit hihilahin pababa," laments Villar.

For the nth time, Villar stated that there was no double insertion and overpricing in the C-5 Road project where he was accused of having gained financially using his influence as Senate president.

To prove that he is not hiding and coward, Villar said he had already explained many times in different forum and media his side on the controversy that he had committed no wrongdoing.

Amid strong criticisms, the embattled senator again defended the C-5 Road project which he said was necessary to ease traffic in the area and ultimately the travel of about six million residents of Cavite, Las Piñas, Parañaque, and nearby provinces.

To refute allegations against him, Villar strongly emphasized his wealth came from sheer hardwork and not from any anomalous transactions.

"Hindi po ako nagnakaw kahit isang kusing sa kaban ng bayan. Mula sa aking mga magulang, minana ko ang prinsipyong ito: Na ang kahirapan ay hindi dahilan para magnakaw, Villar stressed. ("I did not steal even just a single centavo. I inherited this principle from my parents: Poverty is not a reason for one to steal.")

He lamented that now that he had already achieved his dreams and is serving our countrymen, his political adversaries cannot accept the fact that he intends to lead the nation and save the people from the clutches of poverty.

He said the barrage of attacks and criticisms against him started in 2008 when he announced his intention to run for president.

Villar also said that what saddens him is that his political foes have been trying hard to put malice and doubts on how he was able to rise to what he is now.

He also brushed aside speculations that he would only enrich himself once he gets elected president of the country.

Villar said: "Magpapayaman daw ako pag nanalo. Paano ko daw babawiin ang ginagastos ko sa kampanya. Bakit po? Kailangan bang bawiin ang nagastos?. Wala po sa isip ko yan. Wala po sa isip ko ang bumawi dahil hindi naman negosyo ang pagiging pangulo."

Villar said he finally decided to come out to set the record straight and present his side on the issue to stop his detractors from further pillorying him.

He stressed that contrary to what people are made to believe, the C-5 Road extension project is not my personal project but that of the national government.

But he expressed no regret about the project, saying he supported it as it would be for the convenience of the more than six million Filipinos.

He admitted that he proposed an amendment in the form of additional P200 million budget for a certain portion of C-5 Road, which is the flyover to be built in the Cavite Coastal Road.

But he reminded his colleagues that the P200 million is an additional amount to the budget of the same project, meaning the total appropriation of P400 million should have been reflected in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).

He added that there was no irregularity in the insertion of P200 million as the amount covers a different segment of the road project.

For your information, the proposed aggregate budget for the C-5 Road project is placed at P4.2 billion, Villar explained.

He added that once the C-5 Road extension project is completed, travel time to the industrial parks in Cavite, Laguna, and Batangas will be shortened, translating to fuel savings for motorists.

Insertion, per se, or amendment, which is the appropriate parliamentary lexicon, is not illegal as it is a right commonly observed within the realm of policymaking to allow lawmakers to adjust the proposed annual budget by introducing appropriate amendments, with the public's welfare in mind, Villar stated.

Villar also told his colleagues he never used his influence on the executive department to cause the realignment of the C-5 Road project.

"I was accused of using my influence on the executive to cause the realignment of the C-5 Road extension project to ensure that my properties in Barangay San Dionisio, Parañaque City and Barangays Pulang Lupa and Mayuno, Las Piñas City, are protected. As if that was not enough, I was also charged with financially benefiting by the construction of a new road, being that I am in the real estate business. All of those allegations are lies," said an angry Villar.

He even cited the Committee's report which stated that "there is no evidence to prove the direct participation of Senator Villar in the overpricing of such properties."

Villar also challenged his accusers that if they have evidence, they should file the cases in the court. I am not above the law. No one is above the law. I am willing to go to jail if I had committed the crime that you accuse me of.

But when proven innocent, I expect my accusers to be willing to go to jail as well for trampling on my integrity and for destroying my name, Villar said.

Villar said he was hurt that the baseless accusations came from his own colleagues at the Upper Chamber who he considered as friends.

At the end of his speech, Villar said he is a man of dignity and that he oppressed no one. "I did not deceive anyone. What I have now came from my hardwork. What I only intend to do is to help our poor people. (With reports from Mario B. Casayuran and Hannah L. Torregoza)
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