Friday, March 12, 2010

Manny Villar: Was he ever poor?

He served three terms in the Lower House from 1992 to 2001, and was the House Speaker from 1998 to 2000. After that, he served as senator from 2001 up to the present, and was Senate President from 2006 to 2008 which earned him the distinction of being the first post-war government official who became both Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President of the Philippines. That is how we can sum up the colorful political career of Manuel “Manny” Bamba Villar, Jr. in two sentences.

As if 18 years in public office is not enough, the country’s richest senator is aspiring for the highest post in the land and become the 15th president of the republic. I don’t see anything wrong with this. With his years of political experience and undoubted managerial skills, he certainly has the skills to run for the presidency. What I am wary is on how he is running his campaign. There’s just too much deception and lies that are being dished out to the electorate that is making me doubt his intentions.

First is the big fuss about Villar being “poor” once in his life as you can see in the multitude of paid ads on TV and radio. Needless to say, election season is the only time when opportunistic politicians would want to become poor. At least, they want to project that they were “one of us” to lure the masa or even the gullible voters to support them enough to catapult them to victory. They would project that they know how it is to be poor and they have the long-awaited remedy on how to free people from poverty. This is a time-tested propaganda by traditional politicians. But it was even raised to another level by Villar, who claimed to have ended his own poverty.

How do we measure poverty? Is it enough to call a person poor only because he was born in Tondo? Villar’s infamous jingle suggests that you need to “swim in a sea of garbage or spend Christmas in the middle of the streets” for you to be considered poor or “one of us.” How preposterous!

Clearly, this is a myopic view of poverty and it only shows how ignorant this candidate on the real plight of the poor people in this country. Clearly, he or his handlers doesn’t know how it is to be poor. And the only reason I can think of is because he was never really poor.

He was probably poor when compared to Noynoy Aquino or Gibo Teodoro but even his online biography on his own website did not mention that he came from a poor family. It says: “He was born to a simple family in Moriones, Tondo, Manila. His father, Manuel Montalban Villar, Sr., a government employee, hailed from Cabatuan, Iloilo and his mother Curita Bamba, a seafood dealer, came from Pampanga and Bataan. Manny is the second child in a brood of nine.”

Simple may be the right word but not poor. Poor is when you hardly make both ends meet. But if you have parents who were both working at those times, you were not poor. The family was middle-class perhaps, but not poor. To top it all, the family’s resources were enough to support nine children and even send young Manny to private schools! Yes, it was not on his website but one quick search in Wikipedia would yield the following information about Villar: “As a child, Villar attended Holy Child Catholic School, a private Catholic school in Tondo…. He finished his high school education at the MapĂșa Institute of Technology in Intramuros.”

If he was poor then I may have been a beggar since I spent all of my school days in public schools. I don’t think that a poor family with 9 children will have enough resources to send the children to private schools at that time. What then will you call those families who are lucky to have one meal a day because their parents were unemployed? Or those children who cannot afford to go to school and yet at their early age had to work in garbage sites just to earn something that they can put in their empty stomachs?

I take it as an insult that someone who made a fortune out of selling houses to poor people at exorbitant prices and interests will now claim to be "one of us." This man owes his billions to unfortunate people who bought houses from him who cannot even claim that they own the houses until they have paid the price in full. I think it is more apt to describe him as "yumaman dahil sa mahihirap" than "galing sya sa hirap."

And what is the big deal about being poor when has done nothing to help alleviate poverty in the country? If he is Tony Meloto who spearheaded Gawad Kalinga or Jimmy Carter who is with Habitat for Humanity, I may be singing a different tune now. But he is Manny Villar who is a cold-blooded businessman.

What has he done so far to end poverty aside from giving houses and scholarships in Wowowee which we all know were done for the media mileage and with his eyes firmly set for 2010? After serving three terms as a congressman in Las Pinas, has he ended poverty in this city? If he cannot do it in Las Pinas, why claim that he can end poverty in the entire country.

In fairness to him, he may have done a good job as a legislator having authored laws during the 12th Congress, among them are: RA 9178 Barangay Micro Business Enterprises Act, RA 9189 Overseas Absentee Voting Act, RA 9208 Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act, RA 9257 An Act Granting Additional Benefits and Privileges to Senior Citizens, and RA 9262 Anti-Violence Against Women and their Children Act. But to say that Villar has been championing the cause of the poor is purely hogwash.

I am also not at ease with how Manny Villar has been handling the accusations against him. Instead of delving into the issues, he is simply brushing off the allegations as “politically motivated” and he has allies in Congress to back him up. I won’t go into the merits of the accusations being hurled against him about the C-5 extension project I just thought that it should have been faced head-on by the senator if there were no truths to the allegations. Does he think that all these allegations will die down once he become the President? I don’t think so. Without a proper closure to all these controversies, this will forever haunt him and will cause divisiveness in the country in case he managed to win the presidency. He should learn from PGMA and look at how the “Hello Garci” controversy has been haunting the administration and how it has affected the president’s credibility.

Can the country endure another six years of political instability and disarray? I still think that Filipinos deserve better than the quality of leadership that we now have. We deserve better leaders… and a better life.

How about you? Will you vote for Manny Villar?


Anonymous said...

no i won't vote for villar, and i will discourage people from voting him.

"I still think that Filipinos deserve better than the quality of leadership that we now have. We deserve better leaders… and a better life."

i have little faith in the filipino people. why did villar's ratings went up when we were bombarded with his propaganda? instead of getting disgusted with those, we are believing it!

we deserve the kind of politicians we have. they're a product of this society, and this society perpetuates and feed their existence.

jenn said...

too bad i could not vote since im not registered in the US but if i had the chance to vote in May, Villar would definitely NOT be my president.

very nice post Leomar!

Femmepower said...

I totally agree! I wish he'll answer in the proper forums all the controversies he's involved in.He's been shoving the investigations off and has always preferred holding his own press conference to air his side. That's not fair. I wish we, Filipinos, will vote for leaders with morality in governance and political will, this time. But the thing is, we're only good if we're being fed with correct information about these candidates. And our brothers and sisters with hardly any access to adequate political and social information, most likely they'll just depend on whoever visits their area and those whose names they frequently hear in radio and tv commercials.

monique_unique_2003 said...

no way jose........not even when villarsface pops up on my computer every so so seconds ...not even when his face pops up on my tv screen every soso minutes not even when everytime i read the newspaper his face is there......he is moving heaven and earth to hairjust stands up to think what this guy will do to our country when he wins.he is so desperate he is buying everything so that they will just side with him. i just hope this time the filipinos will not succum to this juicy temptation to make a lot of money and really for once in their lives think about the future...
:-D =-O

monique_unique_2003 said...

i will correct myself if ever he wins not when he wins.

Jigs_net said...

@Author - Funny you put your words so cleverly that it almost deceived me. To be clear, I am not a registered voter, and i never vote and never will, so my opinion is as objective as it is. There are really only 2 presidential candidates this election, that is Aquino and Villar, but I guess if I were to vote which I do not, I'd rather go for the one who "may" not be poor but came from a middle class family and made his way up (clearly he has something to prove), rather than someone who was born a haciendero and probably never experienced washing the dishes, not once. To think about it, Noynoy really does not qualify as someone that is "walang bahid ng corruption", this is because in his years in politics he was so passive that he barely passed any bills at all, do you know how many bills and resolutions he actually passed? I suggest you check it out. I think he is just really riding on the popularity of his family name, which makes me recall, what happened to their hacienda and CARP? I smell something fishy..... I am not a Villar supporter, but I believe he will make a better president than Aquino, although really in paper, Gibo is more qualified, than Villar, but Gordon is even more qualified than Aquino. In my personal POV,lets's say Villar was not really that poor but came from a middle class family and worked his way up, I think I'd rather go with this rather than have someone born so rich, na may yaya pa siguro hanggang college, at least Villar knows the feeling of being someone from the middle class, I wonder if Noynoy does too? Thanks

Leomar said...

Thanks for the comment. Like I said, we are all entitled to our own opinion and I respect yours. Although we all have our own biases, I wrote this article with all the objectivity that I could muster. Kindly read your comment again and tell me if it wasn't clear that you are in favor of Villar.

I don't have anything against the candidate. I even wrote "With his years of political experience and undoubted managerial skills, he certainly have the skills to run for the presidency." My apprehension is on the way he is making a big fuss about being "poor."

Why can't he market himself as a successful businessman? Or an accomplished public servant? These things can never be questioned. But for him to claim that he was someone he was not can only make people question his motives.

There's nothing wrong if he was from the middle class. There's nothing wrong to be poor or filthy rich if your conscience is clean. It's just that this early on, people are entitled to the truth.

My purpose in coming up with these articles is to help people scrutinize all the claims from all the candidates and weed out the lies and deception from the truth.


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