Thursday, December 31, 2009

Verdict on Villar kept under wraps

by Fel V. Maragay

Original Story:

The Senate committee of the whole has rendered its verdict on the ethics complaint against Senator Manuel Villar but its chairman, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, has withheld the public disclosure of the document until it is signed by at least majority of its members.

Enrile refused to give any hint to the media on whether Villar has been cleared or found guilty by the committee on the allegations that he and his real estate empire benefited from the C-5 road extension from the South Luzon Expressway-Sucat Road to the Coastal Road in ParaƱaque City.

On Nov. 17 (exactly one year after Villar was ousted as Senate president), 12 senators signed a resolution seeking the dismissal of the complaint against the respondent. But Enrile blocked their attempt to railroad the adoption of the resolution on the ground that this would pre-empt the official investigation report which was still being drafted at that time.

He said the report, of which he was the first to sign, would be presented and debated on the Senate floor upon the resumption of the regular session on Jan. l8. At least three other senators—Panfilo Lacson, Jamby Madrigal and Richard Gordon—said they have already signed the report.

It was Lacson who exposed the alleged double funding of the C-5 project under the 2008 national budget. Madrigal filed the ethics complaint against Villar for alleged breach of the constitutional rule against conflict of interest.

Lacson was tightlipped when asked by newsmen to comment on the report. He chairs the committee on ethics and privileges, which originally investigated the Villar case. But Madrigal said she was satisfied with the report.

Original Story:

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