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PHILIPPINES: Villar should face music, says worried Ocampo

by Leila Salaverria Monday, Feb. 01, 2010 at 12:48 AM

MANILA, Philippines—Even his political ally agrees that Sen. Manuel Villar, a presidential candidate, should face the music and speak up in the Senate about the C-5 road project controversy.

Bayan Muna (People First) party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, a guest candidate for senator under Villar’s Nacionalista Party (NP), warned that if Villar would not meet the issue head-on, it would hound him during the campaign and might erode whatever support he has.

Ocampo said he was also worried about how the C-5 issue, if unresolved during the campaign, would be a source of constant ammunition for Villar’s critics and would affect the militants’ and the NP’s platform of good governance.

“Our call for good governance and transparency would be put in question. It is possible that those in our group we convinced to support him might have doubts,” Ocampo told reporters.

The Makabayan coalition of militant groups has decided to support Villar and his running mate, but not the rest of the NP ticket. This came after the NP adopted Ocampo and Gabriela Women's Party-list Rep. Liza Maza as guest candidates.

Ocampo said that if Villar wanted to be the country’s leader, it was only fitting that he respond to accusations that he intervened in rerouting the road project so that his real estate business would benefit from it.

“Our advice, which we coursed through Minority Leader Ronnie Zamora, is to tell him to face the issue in the Senate. Don’t avoid the issue, and don’t explain to the media, but to the Senate,” Ocampo said at the regular press conference of the House minority Monday.

While Villar maintained that he did not commit a crime, the party-list representative said the charge was not about legalities, but about ethics, which may not necessarily pertain to a criminal offense.

“He should face such cases. I share the view that if you want to be President, you should act responsibly and show leadership,” he added.

He believes that if one is being hit, one should not sit idly by and should respond accordingly.

“If you’re being attacked, you should fight back. That’s what we think. We have differences on how to face the issue,” he said.

Members of the other political parties, particularly the Liberal Party, have been consistently attacking Villar for his refusal to speak up about the C-5 issue.

Villar has also ignored most of the Senate’s hearings on the matter, and has chosen to talk about it only in press conferences.

On Monday, Akbayan party-list Rep. Risa Hontiveros, a guest senatorial candidate of the Liberal Party, said Villar’s refusal to face the C-5 issue was very “unpresidentiable” of him.

Hontiveros said the image that Villar was projecting was contrary to what his advertisements was seeking to portray—that he is a man of integrity and honor.

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Gabriela Women's Party supporting Maoist Joema Sison

by Leila Salaverria Monday, Feb. 01, 2010 at 12:48 AM

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