Senator Panfilo M. Lacson said Monday said the fight against the country’s lingering problem on corruption should serve as the driving force behind the true unification of the opposition.
“Corruption is the issue here, not politics nor personalities,” Lacson said, referring to former President Joseph Estrada’s pronouncements that he would try to settle the row between Lacson and Villar.
“With all due respect to the former President, the P200-million C-5 discovery and its attendant anomalies are not about personal conflicts. They are about corruption, and the abuse of power for personal gain,” he added.
"I feel sorry that the former President doesn't get it. I said it before and I will say it again. The fight against corruption should unite the opposition instead of divide it," he said.
Lacson said the true opposition should join hands in waging war versus corruption in government – no matter in high or low places and whether in the executive, legislative or judicial branch -- instead of being divided over the issue.
“I miss the days when we were one in the fight against corruption being committed by people in this administration,” Lacson said.
Lacson said the C5 controversy, which was bared during a Developmental Budget Coordinating Council hearing last Sept. 15, will not be resolved with Villar continuously dodging the legitimate arguments regarding possible conflict of interest between his business activities and government position.
He noted that no less than Senate Finance Committee chairman Juan Ponce Enrile and Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. said Villar caused the insertion of an additional P200 million in the 2008 budget for the C-5 Extension Road.
Lacson said Public Works Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. likewise said it was Villar who caused the relocation of the originally-planned C-5 route, from one that would have passed Amvel Properties where road right-of-way payments worth P1.2 billion pesos had already been paid, into another location in the boundary of Parañaque and Las Piñas cities, where additional expenses of at least P710 million were incurred.
Documents from the DPWH showed 12 of the 39 lots traversed belong to three Villar-owned and controlled corporations, he added. Lacson noted these are now the subject of ethics committee hearings that Sen. Pilar Juliana Cayetano promised to call.
“The issue is corruption. And I would not be true to my sworn duties as an elected senator if I were to treat the matter selectively. We have exposed the dealings of the executive repeatedly and without let-up, so we have no moral authority if we are not going to expose dealings made by a member of the Senate,” Lacson said.