Monday, August 31, 2009

Worse than Gloria Arroyo

It’s been on many people’s lips: “The way Manny Villar is buying up everyone and everything with his money, he’ll be worse than Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.” Worse than the fake Palace occupant who has corrupted everything almost irreparably--from elections to watchdogs; to police and AFP generals; to princes of the Catholic Church and other sects; to US diplomats, poll surveys, media; as well as, NGOs, opposition politicians, ad nausea.

Villar, who isn’t even in MalacaƱang yet, has been doing pretty much the same thing but with much more vehemence and gusto. Aside from spending what’s known to be between P350 to P800 million on his media blitzes alone, he is also into an even bigger spending spree--buying local and provincial politicians to his side, bringing his pre-election expenditure way into the billions!

Admittedly, tracing the sources of Villar’s bottomless wealth is herculean. No matter how often it is explained, this labyrinthian cornucopia always goes beyond comprehension. One real estate expert we spoke to avers to the old Unified Home Lending Program (UHLP) and National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC) as the roots.

Decades ago, these two programs were designed to serve state workers’ and private sector employees’ home financing needs by tapping the combined resources of three government housing agencies. Villar was a major player in these undertakings. Working through real estate brokers, he bought up housing loan privileges from the beneficiaries without intending to build the promised homes, took the financing proceeds, and let the projects get foreclosed.

These comprised hundreds of thousands of “ghost deliveries” of non-existent homes; thus, netting at least P43 billion in losses to government housing and finance agencies.

Needless to say, the ill-gotten windfall from these massive, anomalous deals were believed to have started Villar’s other land development and banking interests and his use of congressional and senate privileges to divert road funds to these properties to boost their stock.

Villar’s rise to fortune is all but a story of his genius in corrupting government officials; in resorting to financial shenanigans--such as DOSRI loans using overpriced real estate collaterals from his own bank, which he eventually collapsed, and his abuse of the SPAV law to buy back his own debts at a huge markdown; and in diverting public money for infrastructure to inflate the value of his properties and holdings.

If someday an honest government starts its own inquires into Villar’s tree of plenty, it will likely find the gnarled roots from the losses of the UHLP and NHMFC, which losses, up to now, still have to be resolved according to housing industry sources. If the multi-billion Daang Hari scam, exposed by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Jamby Madrigal, already shows how Villar’s neck can be put to the chopping block, what more await when even bigger scams from way, way back are uncovered? Frankly, these may well be his undoing.

Villar has to run and run hard to stay ahead of these cases. He has to spend more, and in the billions, in buying up air time, media practitioners, and pundits to brainwash the public mind. In a way, the media blitzkriegs are taking effect. He is surging ahead in public consciousness, especially with his “tulong sa OFW” spiel. And this bolsters his notion that he can buy everyone and everything even more. But for how long?

If Villar is not effectively exposed for what he truly is, and with his frame of mind fixed toward MalacaƱang, we will no doubt have someone as bad as Arroyo heading the next government. Or he’ll probably be worse since Gloria, in grabbing power, had to rely on various groups, which somehow put a dampener on her voracity.

Villar, in contrast is only using money, money, and more money to buy his way to victory. What then can be expected from an administration set-up a la Villar? Another conjugal kleptocracy to not only to recoup their wild campaign spending in the shortest time possible but to expand their riches by using government resources?

We should therefore ask the people: Do they want more of the same (or probably worse)?

To campaign against the money and media of Villar is to wage a two-pronged assault on his false image. First is a “truth campaign” to expose the lie behind his wealth. Second is a vigorous unmasking of his fraudulence by identifying the qualities of a true leader. These qualities--engendering the spirit of love for and among Filipinos; a palpable compassion for the nation; a proven capacity for reconciling conflicting forces to overcome the crises of the times; a record of concrete achievements; and a correct, pragmatic and effective governance that champions peace and order, as well as, patriotic and developmental economic strategies--are all that Villar can only pretend to have.

Chiz has been stuck in his pandering to the youth vote while Korina has hopelessly muddled Mar’s message. Noli, on the other hand, is so desperate he’s now amenable to Gloria’s “kiss of death.” The rest, like Loren, are being relegated to the vice-presidential derby. So the race is now down to Estrada and Villar.

Since Villar has already “peaked” too early, any truth campaign will easily make minced meat of this. Estrada is cruising along at the right pace. A very human and humorous movie with Ai Ai de las Alas will touch the heart of the nation. Plus, a record of the achievements of his abruptly interrupted regime and how, over time, his vindication came because of his passion for truth and justice, will highlight the message that Erap brings. And such is a message and a vision of hope, versus the only thing that Villar offers--a leadership worse than Gloria.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 7, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. and on the TVU Internet Channel 61713 with the FDC on “Laban sa Laiban Dam-nation;” also visit