MANILA - Sen. Ma. Ana Consuelo "Jamby" Madrigal condemned Tuesday as "political prostitution" the decision of 12 senators to dismiss ethics charges against Sen. Manuel "Manny" Villar.
In a statement, Madrigal criticized Sen. Loren Legarda for shifting sides and joining Villar despite being one of the latter's former critics. Sources said Villar is set to announce his team-up with Legarda for the 2010 elections on Tuesday afternoon.
"My fight against corruption is non-negotiable. I congratulate Mr. Villar for his fantastic lobbying in turning someone like Senator Legarda, who was rabidly against him into his girl Friday. As they say, Manny talks and money talks louder. I will not subscribe to political prostitution when the country's interest is at stake. Public service is not a numbers game," Madrigal said in a statement.
Twelve senators signed a resolution to dismiss Monday night the ethics complaint against Villar in connection with the alleged “double insertion” in the budget of funding for the C5 extension road that allegedly benefited Villar’s real estate business
In Resolution 1472, the senators voted to dismiss the case filed by Madrigal, and clear Villar of charges that: one, he maliciously committed “double insertion” in the 2008 budget, an act that constituted “disorderly behavior”; two, that he influenced the alignment of the C5 road extension project to ensure that his real properties in Las Pinas and Paranaque would be taken as right-of-ways (ROWs) for the project, where Villar would drive huge personal benefits; three, that he caused the sale of the landholdings of his companies to the government at grossly overpriced cost; and fourth, that he violated the Antigraft and Corrupt Practices Act, and the Code of Ethical Standards for Public Officials.
Those who signed the resolution 1472 are Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel, and Sens. Alan Peter Cayetano, Pia Cayetano, Lito Lapid, Gregoriio Honasan, Joker Arroyo, Miriam Santiago, Ramon revilla Jr., Jinggoy Estrada, Loren Legarda, Francis Pangilinan and Villar himself.
In clearing Villar, the Resolution authors said “there is nothing to hold Villar liable for disorderly behavior” in the performance of his duties as senator, despite the presentation by Madrigal of her evidence and witnesses in 20 hearings. The allegation of “double insertion” was not established, said the senators; on the contrary, these were not insertions but amendments that the Senate had approved in the 2008 budget, including the P400 million that Senator Villar recommended but which the Senate reduced to P200 million as its allocation for the C5 project.
“The Senate also finds there is no realignment” of the project just to suit Villar’s property development, as the record showed there were actually two alignments which are separate and distinct from each other. The first is the C5 road extension project, a public road; the other is the toll expressway project which, if completed, would require payment of toll by its users.
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. With a report from Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News