Obsession with Villar’s case hit

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — The minority bloc in the Senate has decried the alleged “obsession” by some members of the majority on the ethics complaint against Sen. Manuel Villar, saying it is “playing into the cards” of Malacanang.

In a talk with Senate reporters yesterday after another prolonged session of the Upper Chamber sitting as the ‘committee of the whole,’ Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano said the majority members led by ethics committee chairman, Sen. Panfilo Lacson and Sen. Jamby Madrigal, the complainant against Villar, has already stretched the scope of the investigation to include Villar’s alleged shortcomings even before he entered the Senate after the 2007 elections.

“Both Senators Lacson and Madrigal were earlier complaining that some investigations have stalled –North Rail, South Rail, etc., but how come the focus today is only on Sen. Villar. In their obsession…they are (now) trying to ‘tailor-fit’ the accusations against Sen. Villar for an extended political hearing. They are now using the Senate to fulfill their obsession against Sen. Villar.

“I hope the people are watching because this (probe) has shown the true characters of the other presidentiables,” Cayetano said.

At the end of yesterday’s session, the lawmakers finally agree to start the investigation against Villar on Monday under the full glare of the media, which is an unprecedented development that is expected to impact on future probes by the senators against their colleagues.

Under the agreement, the minority would be given the chance to submit their recommendations on the rules to be adopted for the inquiry, using as a starting point, the rules of the ethics committee.

Cayetano said they would no longer block Monday’s probe but expressed the hope that their recommendations would also accommodated.

In a separate interview, Madrigal minced no words in accusing Villar as the “king” of corruption and Nacionalista Party spokesman, former Cong. Gilbert Remulla, as the “corruption king” of Cavite, his home province.

Remulla has issued a statement describing as a “fantastic tale” the claim on Monday by Madrigal that Villar went out of the country to purposely meet with Mrs. Arroyo in Spain and seek the president’s help over his legal woes in the Senate.

But as it turned out, Mrs. Arroyo was on official visit to Syria and Egypt and nowhere near the Iberian Peninsula.

Cayetano further warned that aside from downplaying other “vital” issues pending in the Senate, the ‘obsession’ of Villar’s political nemesis against him is “wittingly or unwittingly” playing into the hidden political agenda of Malacañang, especially its push for Charter change.

“If they think they are hurting Sen. Villar, they are mistaken… they are hurting the Senate and the Filipino people.

“This ongoing brouhaha in the ranks of the opposition is only benefitting Malacañang and the pro-Charter change advocates,” Cayetano added.