(UPDATE 2) 12 senators back Villar on ethics rap

by Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 16 2009 09:48 PM | Updated as of Nov 17 2009 06:34 AM

MANILA - Twelve senators comprising a majority of the chamber filed on Monday a resolution seeking the dismissal of charges that Sen. Manuel "Manny" Villar used his position to benefit his real estate business.

Titled "Resolution expressing the sense of the Senate to dismiss, as it hereby dismisses the complaint against Sen. Manuel B. Villar, and clear as it hereby clears him of alleged acts of disorderly behavior," the resolution stemmed from Villar's investigation by the Senate Committee of the Whole in connection with the C-5 road extension project.

Villar himself signed the resolution, along with his allies Aquilino Pimentel, Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Lito Lapid, Gregorio Honasan II, Joker Arroyo, Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Ramon Revilla Jr., Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, Francis Pangilinan, and Villar's presumptive running mate Loren Legarda.

Beside his signature in the resolution, Villar wrote: "bilang pagtatanggol sa aking pangalan".

In their resolution, the senators cited testimonies of personnel from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and the Senate Budget Office which supposedly showed there was "no double insertion, no realignment, no overpricing" in the public works project that Villar had pushed.

"As members of the Senate and as a matter of duty, we hereby express our thoughts and rectify these substantiated charges against an esteemed peer who has been unjustly pilloried for over six months," the resolution said.

"This is a bad precedent. We hope these kinds of charges and kind of hearing are not repeated in the future."

With 12 of the 23 senators signing the resolution, this means there won't be enough votes to convict Villar of unethical conduct.

The Committee of the Whole which investigated Villar wrapped up hearings almost two months ago, and was in the process of deliberating on their findings.

Villar managed to secure 12 votes apparently after sealing a deal with Legarda to be his vice presidential candidate in the 2010 elections.

Ironically, Legarda was among those who pushed for Villar's ouster as Senate president and his subsequent investigation for alleged unethical conduct.

The ethics case against villar was filed by Sen. Ma. Ana Consuelo "Jamby" Madrigal.