LP senatorial bet and Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros yesterday chided Sen. Manny Villar for demanding that the Liberal Party and journalists apologize for questioning the senator’s ads, particularly claims that he grew up in poverty and his brother died because of it.
“I think that it’s unfair to ask both the LP and the journalists who revealed the documentary evidence to apologize given that, one, the LP did not give those documents to the media; and two, the journalists who obtained and used the documents were only doing their job when they wrote articles disputing the exaggerated claims of Villar’s TV ads,” she said.
Villar lost his cool last week when several journalists––Lito Banayo of Malaya, Conrado De Quiros of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Billy Esposo of the Philippine Star, and Winnie Monsod, who writes for the Inquirer and Businessworld––criticized Villar’s ads, which claimed that his brother Danny had died from leukemia because his family was too poor to afford proper treatment.
Documents cited by these writers––the younger Villar’s death certificate and the land title of Villar’s cemented, two-story home in Navotas––showed that the Villar family, while not rich, was far from poor, as claimed by Villar’s TV ads.
Hontiveros added that Villar should expect this kind of scrutiny during the campaign.
“Just because there are no laws that penalize candidates who make false or exaggerated claims in their ads doesn’t mean that these ads are sacrosanct. The media was doing its job in exposing what apparently is a dressed-up tale,” she said.
“If anyone should apologize,” Hontiveros added, “it should be Villar––for misleading the people, particularly the poor who obviously do not have the time and resources to check the truthfulness of his glossy claims,” Hontiveros said.
The AKBAYAN also took NP spokesmen to task for branding the LP as “Topak,” a contraction for “Trapos, Opportunists and Kamag-Anak Inc.”#