MANILA - After two successive and successful ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC) leadership forums for declared or perceived presidential aspirants, preparations are underway for a third installment to be held on July 28 at the ABS-CBN’s Dolphy Theater.
But don’t expect senator and presumptive Nacionalista Party standard bearer Manny Villar to be present in the upcoming forum. Not even to make up for snubbing the first two.
When asked if he was going to attend the July 28 televised leadership forum, Villar said: "Hindi na siguro, pero anytime I’m prepared to discuss my views on things. Anytime I’m prepared to discuss my platforms anytime. Anytime, I’m prepared to discuss what I have done in the past and to show I can implement whatever plans I will announce."
Villar dismissed speculation he’s afraid to participate in a no-holds barred forum, which could put him on the spot in light of his ongoing trial for alleged unethical conduct. His peers in the Senate have accused him of using his legislative powers to favor his real estate business.
“Mali naman yun. Marami na akong napuntahan na forum, kaya nga lamang ay nakikita ko na meron din tayong mga prayoridad sa pagpapaliwanag ng ating mga ginagawa at umuubos lamang ng oras naman yon kasi pag sinabi mong di ka pupunta ka rito, pag pumunta ka sa isa, gusto kailangan puntahan mo na lahat,” Villar told reporters.
ANC invited Villar to its first leadership forum held last May 11 at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City. He sent his regrets saying he would be out of the country. But as the forum was being held, Villar was spotted at the Supreme Court attending the party of a retiring justice.
Those who attended that forum were Senators Chiz Escudero, Mar Roxas, Richard Gordon, Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio, and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro.
On June 12, ANC held its second leadership forum. Again, Villar declined the invitation saying he was travelling with his wife.
Less talk, more action
In a chat with reporters on Thursday, Villar criticized the format used in public discussions such as the ANC forum, which, he said, focuses only on what the candidate planned to do and not on what he has already done.
“Yung mga rules sa forum, dapat din naman tatanungin yong mga kandidato sapagkat hindi lang pwede kako na lahat lamang ng tatanungin yung gagawin. Sapagkat mahalaga rin namang malaman kung kaya mong gawin yung gagawin mo nga. Pag sinabi mong gagawin ko to, e kaya mo bang gawin yan. Pag sinabi mong irereporma mo yung lipunan ng ating bansa, tanong ko naman may na reporma ka na ba sa buong buhay mo? May nagawa ka na ba na radikal sa buong buhay mo. Kasi kung wala rin naman, e pagandahan lamang ng statement yan,” he said.
Rather than talk about his plan, he prefers to act on it, Villar said.
But this was not what the Villar camp told ANC when they declined the invitation to the July 28 forum.
According to ANC, a Villar aide told them that he could not make it because it was the birthday of his wife, Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar. But Mrs. Villar’s birthday falls on the 29th of July, according to records in the House of Representatives.