Why Monsod will not vote for Villar (A Reprint)

The following is a reprint from the Philippines Daily Inquirer:

Refuting Manny’s defenders

By Solita Collas-Monsod
"Philippine Daily Inquirer
"First Posted 22:33:00 02/05/2010

"IN RESPONSE TO LAST WEEK’S COLUMN where I presented some incontrovertible facts regarding the ethics case against Sen. Manny Villar, I received an e-mail from one Danilo Suarez of Quezon City. He wrote: “Read your column re your take on C5 and Sen. Villar’s ‘involvement.’ In the interest of fairness, I exhort you, as a supporter of Sen. Villar, to also check his official website and his side on the matter. I trust you would put this out as you search for the truth …. Looking forward to reading about it in your column.”

"My reply: “Dear Mr. Suarez, If there is anything erroneous in any of the statements of fact that were published in my column, please feel free to point them out, together with the documents you have that will allow me to verify that they are indeed erroneous. As you may have noticed, the A’s in my column can be verified by documents and uncontroverted statements from official sources, which I was very careful to cite, precisely so that readers like you can check them. I am certainly glad that Mr. Villar has aired his side on his website. That is his choice. It is mine to look at the government documents and the sworn testimony that are part of the Senate record. I look forward to Mr. Villar’s defending himself in a venue that allows for clarificatory questions and refutations. That is, after all, part and parcel of transparency and accountability that are so necessary for good governance. Regards.”

"The Inquirer also forwarded me an e-mail from Ma. Nalen Rosero-Galang, who identifies herself as legal counsel for Senator Villar. I also received a paper titled “C-5 sound and fury: Is Monsod painting the full picture? Student rebukes professor” by Ricardo G. Barcelona of Spain, who identifies himself firstly as “a former student of Prof. Monsod,” before going on to reciting the rest of his impressive curriculum vitae. I am honored that he considers his being my former student (albeit a rebuking one) more important than the rest of his professional achievements.

"For the most part, both Galang and Barcelona do not contest the facts presented in last week’s column. An exception is when Galang asserts that “There is no evidence whatsoever that the alignment of the C5 Road Extension was determined by Senator Villar, or that its alignment was changed in order that it should pass through the real estate properties of Senator Villar’s companies.” Excuse me, Ms Galang: May I remind you that per the Department of Public Works and Highways, Senator Villar conceptualized and initially funded both the CX-5 and the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Road project. That is in black and white in the DPWH project feasibility studies.

"Both do contest what I considered a reasonable conclusion: that since there was already an ongoing (MCTEP) linking C-5 to the Coastal Road, it was unnecessary (and therefore wasteful) to build a second one. Galang argues that both were necessary, given the “worsening traffic condition (sic) in Parañaque, Las Piñas and Cavite.” Barcelona argues that it was not a case of wastefulness, but rather of creating choices for motorists.

"To Ms Galang: where in urban Philippines are traffic conditions not worsening? To Mr. Barcelona: MCTEP was conceived precisely to create choices for motorists. There already exists a current road network, toll-free, that will allow motorists to move from SLEX to the Coastal Road. MCTEP would give them the choice of going from point A to Point B more quickly—as long as they are willing to pay for the convenience. Giving motorists a third choice, in the context of competing demands on scarce resources, cannot be—never mind, should not be—defended. Giving motorists a third choice, while at the same time ensuring that the third-choice road passes through Villar-owned properties (I notice neither Galang nor Barcelona refuted the 50-52 hectare area involved), is even less defensible.

"Then there is the matter of zonal valuation. Barcelona is correct to point out a seemingly inconsistent set of estimates: In my column, I stated (not suggested—it is a matter of arithmetic), that the Villar lots were acquired at an average price of P7,168/sq m while non-Villar properties went for P1,880/sq m. In my analysis for News on Q, which was earlier taped, the figures I gave were P11,520 and P2,922 respectively (not the P11,000 and P4,500 that Barcelona cites. Tsk.). Inconsistent? No. The P11,520 figure refers only to the properties that are directly Villar-owned. The P7,168 figure refers to direct properties and those in joint-venture with Villar companies. Please note that I used the lower figures in my column.

"To Barcelona: Do not put words in my mouth. I was not suggesting that capital gains linked to proximity to public works should accrue to government. And there is a world of difference between the Hacienda Luisita issue and the Villar properties issue: (1) Noynoy Aquino probably owns less than 2 percent of Luisita, Villar owns 100 percent of his properties; and (2) Villar conceived and initially funded CX-5/LPPLP; Aquino had zilch to do with SCTEX. Tsk.

"Moral of the story: Do not rebuke your teacher using insinuations and without full knowledge of the facts. My fault is that I didn’t teach him any better.

"Finally, I cannot resist quoting Joker Arroyo, circa 1998: “So in the case of Speaker Villar, it is simple. If he wants to go/continue in business and deal with government financial institutions, he can do so but he cannot also be a congressman. If he wants to be a congressman, then he must not be in business which deals with the government. We have to pay a price.” Amen."

The following is a reprint of the an item in Winnie Monsod's blogsite:

"(Following is the transcript of the segment “Analysis by Winnie Monsod” which aired on News on Q on Feb. 1, 2010. Prof. Winnie Monsod is the resident analyst of News on Q which airs weeknights at 9:30 p.m. on QTV Channel 11.)

"What are the specific charges against Senator Manny Villar?

"Based on the Senate Report 780, stripped of all the legalese, the charges are that he used his position and influence to cause a government roadway — the so-called C-5 road extension project — to be built and that the road was unnecessary, financially disadvantageous to the government, and would actually yield him enormous financial benefits.

"It was unnecessary, because there was already an existing project, the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway (MCTEP), which was a Build-Operate-Transfer project to be built by private contractors.

"It was financially disadvantageous to the government because the Villar-proposed project would be longer and would be built entirely by the government using public funds.

"And it would result in tremendous financial benefit for Villar because it would pass right through his properties so that the government would have to pay him road right-of-way and at the same time, considerably enhance the value of those properties.

"What exacerbates the situation is that the government, per the documentary evidence, paid much more for the right-of-way for the Villar properties than the other properties, that Villar allegedly used his position as a senator — in particular as the Senate Finance Chairman and then as Senate President — to make insertions that would ensure that his properties would be paid for right away.

"Based on the Philippine Senate resolution 1472 filed by mostly Villar allies, the committee of the whole had no jurisdiction, that it adopted rules that were inapplicable, that it did not even publish the final rules, that there was an inadequate quorum reuirement; and most importantly, that Manny Villar was being singled out.

"What does it then find?

"Resolution 1472 finds that:

"1) there was no “double insertion” and that the same were actually “regular amendments”;

"2) that there is no realignment of the C-5 road extension project, much less one authored or done at the behest of senator Villar to secure that it passed through his real estate properties.

"Why? Because there are two separate alignments: one is the C-5 road extension project, which is a public road; and the other is the MCTEP, a toll expressway project, which, if completed, would require the payment of toll for its use; and

"(3) that there was no overpricing because the right of way payments were based on properly certified zonal valuations; that all requirements were complied with; and that there was no participation of villar or his staff in the acquisition of the properties.

"What can we make of these conflicting opinions?

"A picture is worth a thousand words.

"A map prepared by GMANews.TV shows what the case is all about. [See: The C5 extension controversy: An interactive map]

"Here, you see the original C-5 extension project, called the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway Project.

"The idea was that this would be a BOT project, with the private partner bearing the costs of construction, to be paid by future tolls, and the government’s exposure would be limited to P2.5 billion pesos which will be used to obtain right-of-way.

"Here now is the new project.

"We have super imposed the burnt orange line representing the new project again connecting SLEX to coastal road except it is very much longer and hits the coastal road farther along.

"Here are the Villar properties.

"On the basis of this map, it is clear that there are two alignments.

"But it is also clear that one of them was unnecessary — why?

"It has to be the burnt orange project, because the other project had been approved earlier.

"It is also clear that the C-5 extension project is going to be more costly, first because it is longer, and second because it was built wholly with government funds; and third because of what the government spent on the road right of way for the old project will now be gone to waste.

"Why will it go to waste?

"Can you imagine the joint venture partner building this project which is a toll road, when a free road is almost right beside it — who will want to pay the toll?

"And finally, it is very clear that the greater length of the C-5 extension project enables it to pass through all the Villar company properties — Golden Haven, Adelfa, Camella, Azalea.

"There remains the issue of the overprice of the Villar properties.

"Based on the documentary evidence that was presented in Senate Report 780, there were 22 properties that had to be bought to get a road right of way for the C-5 extension project.

"The average price paid for the non-Villar properties was Php 2,422 per square meter.

"The average price paid for of Villar properties was Php 11,519 per square meter for mostly raw land.

"So, now i think we have sufficient basis, free of the posturing and screaming, to make our own decisions."


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