A LEADER of the House of Representatives warned Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva not to be too sanctimonious as he reminded the senator of his not-so-spotless past as a public official when he was linked with the infamous Janet Napoles of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.
House Appropriations Committee chairman and Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Elizaldy Co advised Villanueva not to be too quick to belittle members of the House of Representatives, whom he compared to senators in terms of number of votes garnered during elections, using the analogy of comparing “apples to oranges.”
“Unang una, si Senator Joel ho ay dati naman siyang party-list and masyado ho atang mayabang ang ating senador at alam naman ho natin kung sino siya,” Co said in a radio interview, citing Villanueva’s pompous and sanctimonious statements, knowing well that his record as a public official is allegedly not always beyond reproach.
“Kilala naman ho natin si Senator Joel Villanueva kung sino siya eh. Siya ho ay dating na-perpetually disqualified sa desisyunan ng Ombudsman. Pero mukhang na-apela ho niya. Pero alam po natin na nali-link pa siya kay [Janet] Napoles,” he added.
Co was referring to Janet Napoles who was jailed for involvement in the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam with senators and members of the House of Representatives.
“Kaya yan ho ang pagkakakilala natin (kay Sen. Joel). Naswertehan niya lang ho na bestfriend niya si PNoy (President Noynoy Aquino) at hindi ho natin alam paano siya nanalo,” Co said.
Co said he couldn’t understand why Villanueva could make such disappointing statements against members of the House of Representatives when he himself was once a member of the chamber as a partylist representative.
Villanueva was a virtual nobody before his appointment as head of TESDA by then-President Noynoy Aquino. He won as senator in 2016.
But in 2016, then-Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales came out with an order for the dismissal of Villanueva from the Senate for allegedly channeling P10 million of his PDAF allocation as CIBAC partylist congressman to a bogus NGO.
Villanueva was found by Morales guilty of “grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service,” but held on to his Senate post on the argument his identity was stolen to sign off on the anomalous use of funds.
Also, the Commission on Audit (CoA) found anomalies against TESDA when Villanueva was its director general.
Villanueva allegedly violated a Supreme Court TRO declaring PDAF unconstitutional when he charged P49 million worth of training and assessment to the PDAF, said COA in a 2014 audit report.
The senator brushed off the allegations and said that the injunction did not apply to TESDA since the SC ruling was applicable only in cases when the Department of Budget and Management has not yet issued the notice of cash allocation.
Also, Co said that some members of the House of Representatives are contemplating the withdrawal of support for Villanueva.
“Sinasabi nila, they have 15 million votes, sabi ni Sen. Joel. So be it kung ‘yun ang sa tingin niya. Pero alalahanin nya na ang Kongreso, ang mga congressman pagdating sa district, lagi nilang hinihingian ng tulong at darating ang araw hihingi siya ng tulong,” Co said.
“At hindi ko ho alam sa ngayon sa mga sinabi niya ay tutulong pa ang mga congressman. And ang plano po namin, kung sino ang aming susuportahan at sino rin ang aming ide-declare na persona non grata na hindi susuportahan,” he warned.
Villanueva made the statement in reaction to the people’s initiative to amend the Constitution, in light of reports that some lawmakers were supporting the people’s campaign for Charter change to remove its restrictive provisions.
“Apat na dekada nang naghihirap ang ating taumbayan. Dapat double digit growth ho tayo, pero dahil ho sa 1987 Constitution na masyadong hong restrictive, (hindi natin nagagawa) … We are the most restrictive in the world in terms of economic provisions” Co said.