MANILA – President Rodrigo on Thursday said Senator Cynthia Villar supported him in the May 2016 presidential campaign.
In a speech at an event in Pasay City, Duterte recalled that Villar was one of those who helped him with television advertisements during the campaign.
“During the presidential debates, in between far and wide the debates, there was this intermission. Nakita mo wala akong advertisement. Walang pera eh,” Duterte said.
“Buti na lang tumulong si Ma’am Cynthia. Tinulungan niya ako. I have to admit it, na tinulungan ako,” he added.
The President’s claim appeared to have caught the senator by surprise. On the stage with several government officials and guests, Villar was seen holding her head.
Duterte spent a total of P371.46 million for his campaign, four million pesos less the total campaign contributions he received, according to his Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE).
According to a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), 89.28 percent or P334.8 million of his P371.46 million campaign kitty came from his 13 biggest donors.
Villar, who belongs to the Nacionalista Party, is not on the full list of donors of Duterte, the standard-bearer of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
However, PCIJ noted that one of Duterte’s top donors, Marcelino C. Mendoza, has ties with the Villars.
PCIJ reported that Mendoza, who donated P14.5 million to Duterte, is from Las Piñas and listed as incorporator, board member, and stockholder of Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc., which is chaired by former Senator Manuel Villar Jr., the senator’s husband.
Villar’s son, Mark, was tapped as Duterte’s Public Works and Highways secretary a week after the long-time Davao City mayor won the presidency.
As of writing, ABS-CBN was still waiting for comment from the staff of the senator.
The Villars' Nacionalista Party (NP) did not field a presidential bet in the last elections. But three of the vice-presidential candidates last year, namely Alan Peter Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., ran under the NP. Cayetano was Duterte’s running mate.
Previously, Duterte also disclosed that Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos helped him in his campaign, but the governor’s name is likewise not in Duterte’s SOCE. The governor also denied donating campaign money to Duterte.