The Long View: Senate can’t succeed where Rep. Arroyo failed

The Long View
Senate can’t succeed where Rep. Arroyo failed

By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:15:00 06/01/2009

On Aug. 27, 1973, Ninoy Aquino wrote to Military Commission No. 2, saying, “I understand my lawyers have stated before the Supreme Court why a Military Tribunal cannot assume jurisdiction over criminal cases against civilians in times of peace. The whole civilized world recoils at the thought of civilians being dragged before military courts and tried as ordinary criminals.” He added that President Marcos had already declared him guilty of charges that Marcos never pursued in civilian courts, but only put forward once he had assumed dictatorial powers and created military tribunals under martial law.

And so, Aquino firmly informed the tribunal, “I have therefore decided not to participate in these proceedings: first, because this ritual is an unconscionable mockery; second, because every part of my being – my heart and mind and my soul – yes, every part of my being is against any form of dictatorship ; My non-participation is therefore an act of protest against the structures of injustice that brought us here. It is also an act of faith in the ultimate victory of right over wrong, of good over evil. In all humility, I say it is a rare privilege to share with the Motherland her bondage, her anguish, her every pain and suffering.”

Sen. Joker Arroyo, in defending his former foe and now friend, former Senate President Manuel Villar Jr., used Ninoy’s refusal to participate in the proceedings of Marcos’ martial law military commission as a justification for Villar’s refusal to participate in the Senate’s deliberations, as a committee of the whole, concerning allegations of financial impropriety on Villar’s part.

I wonder, though, if this is an apt comparison to make. Ninoy’s position vis-a-vis a military tribunal would be relevant if Senator Arroyo’s dear leader, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, imprisoned Villar and had him tried by a military court, but not otherwise. Indeed, the more appropriate cases might be those involving challenges to Ninoy’s election as mayor of Concepcion, Tarlac in 1956 and then as senator in 1967. In the first case, he was ousted because he was 19 days shy of the age required by law for the mayorship; in the second, he stayed in office despite the dogged pursuit of the case against him by President Marcos in the Comelec, the Senate Electoral Tribunal, and the Supreme Court – before whom he was ably defended by Sen. Jovito Salonga – who said he was too young on the day of election but the required age by the time he assumed office.

Marcos and the Nacionalistas were engaged in political persecution against Ninoy, who was the only opposition Liberal candidate to survive the NP senatorial sweep in the 1967 senatorial elections. Yet Ninoy, as skilled as any politician we’ve ever had, in pursuing his advocacies inside and outside the halls of the Senate, fought it out in every venue, including the Senate Electoral Tribunal.

Would Aquino have refused to face down a challenge to him in the Senate, if it involved ethics and not election? Probably not; he would not back off from a fight in the right venue, however much the odds were stacked against him, so long as occurring under a regime of the rule of law; only when the law became the writ of a single man, did he refuse to fight within institutions – because it was now a moral fight, to the death, as it turned out.

But no fight to the death is taking place, now. What there is, is a fight over allegations concerning Villar that, ironically, were first formidably built up by Arroyo himself, back on Aug. 17, 1998.

The case, basically, was this: Congressmen and senators are required to inform their respective chambers of their financial and business interests. If there’s a chance any legislation they propose might represent a conflict of interest with their financial interests, they’re supposed to inform their peers. This, Arroyo said, is a disclosure Villar never made.

Arroyo then detailed what he maintained was Villar’s modus operandi, in using his political office to further his private commercial gain. Arroyo mentioned loans from government financial institutions; the development of properties despite a lack of environmental clearances; and he subsequently expressed interest in allegations of land-grabbing.

At the time, Congressman Arroyo had been frustrated in his ambitions to become Speaker of the House; Villar, on the other hand, had adroitly maneuvered to become Speaker; yet in that case, as in a later case, when Congressman Arroyo served as one of the House managers in the impeachment of President Joseph Estrada, no one said he was motivated merely by political spite due to frustrated ambition. Instead, when Arroyo thundered “we cannot have a nation run by a thief,” the country applauded him, as it had applauded him during martial law and continued to applaud him until a couple of years ago.

Arroyo built the foundation for future cases, in which Villar is accused of maneuvering government projects, such as roads, to ensure they pass through his properties, even if the route of the roads have to be changed, wasting the funds already paid for right-of-way along the old, discarded path. The time and trouble to literally redraw the path of a road is worth it because it allegedly ate up portions of his properties, enabling him to seek compensation for right-of-way and saved Villar the expense of building roads to improve access to his developments.

Most interesting of all, is the allegation that his high office may have made possible his being paid at a rate higher than others, and collected these payments even when related to properties put up as collateral for government loans, and foreclosed.

Since I do not think Arroyo insincere, or senile, or corrupt, I can only suggest that Arroyo defends Villar today out of an insistence on the equality of House and Senate. If he failed in the House, no one should succeed with the same case in the Senate.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

12 thoughts on “The Long View: Senate can’t succeed where Rep. Arroyo failed

  1. The Senate has succeeded already in pointing out to the voters that Villar pocketed millions of pesos in the C-5 Diversion project.

    If Villar do not want to contest the accusation, and the Senate didn’t expel him from the Senate, then his presidential bid is doomed. If he is expelled he become a martyr, the voters might tend to symphatize with him.

    As gentlemen, the senators, I think, will not expel him from the Senate. IMHO.

    Joker Arroyo’s defense of his friend Villar is a lame defense, unless Villar can present proof in the Senate investigation that he did not benefit financially from the C-5 project thus debunking the accusations, then his defense of political persecution will crumble.

    By refusing to contest the case in the Senate, Villar is causing his own cookie to crumble.

  2. Villar thinks he can buy his way into and out of anything and everything. We will see if its true.

  3. Close your eyes and imagine Las Pinas as The Philippines.

    The villars control everything!

    Economically:Star Mall,Housing Projects Golden Haven Memorial Park

    Politically:senator,congresswoman,mayor,barangay chiefs

    Every single street is cluttered with streamers reminding you that the flower box,the electric post,the road improvement ,the basketball court and even the garbage can are donated “by Senator Manny Villar and Congresswoman Cynthia Villar”.

    Do you want The Philippines To Be Run Like Las Pinas By Money Villar?

  4. let’s ask this presidential wannabe how much tax on anything has he paid this year alone. typically, its simply bragging rights to disclose one’s assets and deflect the conventional wisdom that there’s money in politics that “a rich man doesn’t steal”. MV is a one-man-woman. he hits the rag at 8pm. does his marketing on sundays right after the sunday mass. he has no nicotine nor alcohol in his body and all he enjoys are nocturnal orgasms. he loves reviewing his bottomlines. erap beside him is simply erap as we know him. whether he is a helluva businessman remains unaswered because his senate position gave him the SPAVs and suspended foreclosures. does he have any morals? double insertions? come on….the guy’s a certified public accountant!

  5. Pansin ko lang, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is really hitting Villar. Over and over. And over. Sino kaya ang manok ng mga Prietos? Hmmm, si Mr. Padyak cguro.

    Masamang pangitain sa darating na 2010: in a recent birthday bash for Gloria Arroyo covered by the society page of the PDI, all the big names of the topmost socio-economic strata were there: the Zobel de Ayalas, the Concepcions, the Prietos, etc. Wow, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

  6. Manny Villar can build build mansions and develop his properties, but can’t lift our bahay kubo alone. The same is true with the other presidential wannabes. The task is ours! We must work for a setting where the bayanihan spirit will thrive.

  7. Manny Villar is no better . . . and no worse . . . than any of the other Presidentiables. The only probable bull in the china shop is Erap. And he doesn’t seem to have a good shot at winning the Presidency this time around.

    In the meantime, we might as well sit back and try to enjoy the mudslinging as the pack of aspirants get more and more frenzied while 2010 approaches.

  8. Villar said something like, it’s not evidence but numbers. Strange defense for one who thinks he’s innocent, yet stranger still, why not face your accuser then if you know the numbers to be in your favor?

    My guess, Erap will not run in the end but will choose the most popular among the opposition, probably Chiz, and dump his part of the vote on him.

  9. “Madonna on Tue, 2nd Jun 2009 12:20 am:…the Zobel de Ayalas, the Concepcions, the Prietos…”

    I like you’re theory.

    Long term I’m not sure if this is a wise move by the other property tycoons. Villar as president will open him to more scrutiny and restrictions on private wealth building, benefiting the other real estate moguls.

    His immediate removal from congress will force him back to the real estate game. And if he has more time to devote to his private interests he could very well rebuild it, without the oversight of senate/public office. That could be bad for the other developers.

  10. “Pansin ko lang, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is really hitting Villar. Over and over. And over. Sino kaya ang manok ng mga Prietos?…” Madonna

    Have you not heard? Gilbert Teodoro is running and his wife (Monica Prieto) is very vocal about it.

  11. From Malaya (SEPTEMBER 24, 2008)—-BY DENNIS GADIL

    The charges (Joker) Arroyo lined up against Villar (in a privilege speech delivered on Aug. 17, 1998) … included:

    • Then Speaker Villar and low-cost housing companies he owns or controls got financial accommodation from government banks or financial institutions such as Pag-IBIG and the National Home Mortgage Finance Corp. (NHMFC);

    • Then Rep. Villar, from 1992 to 1998, did not divest himself of his interest in, or sever his connections with the companies. Even up to now, he has not severed his ties with those firms.

    • Villar’s Capitol Bank, where his wife Cynthia is chief executive officer, received loans, financial accommodations and guarantees from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas from 1992 to 1998 while he was a representative, an act that is constitutionally forbidden.

    • Rep. Villar, in his bid for the Speakership, prepared a propaganda kit where he said he incorporated in the landmark comprehensive and integrated shelter finance act, R.A. 7835, the re-capitalization of the NHMFC and amendment to the agri-aqua law to including housing. Yet, he did not divest himself of his interests in the companies that benefited from it.

    • Manuela Corp., a housing and realty firm owned by the family of Villar’s wife, applied for and was granted a loan of P1 billion from the Social Security System and another P2 billion loan from Government Service Insurance System. This, according to then Rep. Arroyo, was an “indirect financial accommodation.”

    • While all lands covered by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program cannot be used for residential, industrial and other uses unless a clearance conversion or exemption for a particular property is first issued by DAR, then Speaker Villar’s companies have developed 5,950 hectares or almost 60 million square meters of CARP lands without appropriate DAR issuances that would authorize such lands to be used for residential purposes.

    so joker, what gives?
    “pag bad ka, but kakampi kita (MV, FG and NayBi) ok ka!”

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