by ANALYN PEREZ
01/26/2010 | 10:05 PM
Below is an interactive map prepared by GMANews.TV of the controversial C5 road extension project in Metro Manila that shows both the originally planned route of the road project and where the road actually passed after presidential candidate and real estate magnate Senator Manuel Villar Jr allegedly intervened:
Presidential candidate Sen. Villar has been accused of a naked conflict of interest. Opinion surveys in the next few weeks will show if this has mortally affected his candidacy. But the case at the least provides a window into the intersection between political power and government infrastructure, commercial interest and public spending.
According to the findings of the Senate Committee of the Whole, Villar exerted his influence on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) so that the C-5 Road Extension would pass through his real estate properties and connect to the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Road, adjacent to more of his commercial land.
Road access, of course, raises the value of real estate, especially if the government and not private developers foots the bill of road construction. Landowners like Villar can also make money from right-of-way compensation by the government.
The rerouted road project forced the government to scrap its originally planned C-5 extension (via the Manila-Cavite Toll Expressway Project or MCTEP), even after multi-billion-peso payments by the government in road right-of-way compensation for land that was not needed after all.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said on the Senate floor last January 25 that there was sufficient evidence that Villar was a major stockholder of Adelfa Properties Inc, which owns Golden Haven Memorial Park and Azalea Real Estate Corporation (now Brittany Corporation), and was the proponent of Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Road project and the government’s C-5 road extension project. Those properties benefited from the rerouted road extension.
He added that Villar committed ethical violations by failing to avoid a conflict-of-interest situation by not divesting himself of his shareholdings in the mentioned corporations. He added that Villar used his position to benefit the interest of his corporations.
Enrile said the alignment of the C-5 road extension segment of the MCTEP had to be changed just to accommodate the new routes of the Las Piñas-Parañaque and C-5 extension projects.
Villar’s camp, however, has argued that the MCTEP was still an existing project and that no realignment was involved to accommodate his properties.
In the Congress’ budget proposal for the 2008 national budget, or the 2008 General Appropriations Act, Villar allegedly inserted a double entry of P200 million for the C-5 Road Extension project.
According to the findings of the Senate Committee of the Whole, the money was supposed to be the government’s payment, or the road-right-of-way compensation, for Villar’s allegedly overpriced properties where the C-5 Road Extension and the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Road would pass.
Villar’s camp, however, said that there was no double allocation. The P200 million was for the construction of the flyover linking the C-5 Road Extension to the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Road. The other P200 million was supposedly for the flyover connecting the other end of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Link Road to the Coastal Road.
Our interactive map (embedded above) clearly shows that the realignment of the C5 extension created easier access to properties that were developed by companies linked to Villar. Whether this resulted from his influence has not been as firmly established. (SOURCES: Senate Committee of the Whole report; Powerpoint presentations from the office of Sen. Jamby Madrigal; Sen. Manny Villar’s C-5 Primer). – Overview by Sophia Dedace, interactive map and graphics by Analyn Perez with TJ Dimacali/HS/JV, GMANews.TV