Filtered By: Opinion
(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.