Press Release
February 21, 2010

Villar to closest rivals: Disclose your campaign donors

Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manny Villar today dared his closest rivals in the presidential race to disclose their political campaign donors to give the public the chance to scrutinize the groups or people bankrolling their campaign.

"Show us who your donors are and we'll tell you what interest to you is dearest," Villar said.

Villar said the donors' list will also put to test the campaign propaganda of some presidential candidates that they are transparent and that theirs is being fuelled by a "people's campaign."

"We're issuing a proverbial habeas corpus to all the campaign funders of my rivals," he said.

Villar said no presidential candidate could claim transparency and independence if he keeps in his stable most of the big-time industrialists and corporate titans and refer to it as a "people's campaign."

The NP presidential bet nevertheless clarified that he has no quarrel with big businessmen pouring their funds into the campaign chest of his closest rivals.

"I just can't stomach hypocrites who tell the public that they are running a people's campaign when the combined net worth of all their contributors betrays the very essence of a people's campaign," Villar said.

He said he understands why the corporate titans are not backing him probably because they perceive him as an "outsider."

Villar said he has nothing to hide as far as his campaign funds are concerned since he's practically running and bankrolling his own campaign.

The NP presidential bet likewise stressed that what he said in his television and radio ads about his impoverished past were not exaggerated or distorted.

Villar stressed he's not ashamed of his past and is proud of climbing up from poverty.

"My television commercials are also not merely a storyboard, but my life story. The jingle 'Naging Mahirap' for instance is composed especially for me. I told my life story to the composer, then the song was made," Villar, who has been enjoying good ranking in various election surveys, said.

Villar cited that one in every four Filipino families experience hunger and millions still struggle to put food on their plate or eat even just one full meal a day.

Villar shared more aspects of his poor childhood in the new TV ad, asking: "Nakatulog ka na ba sa kapirasong bangko sa palengke?" (Have you slept on a narrow bench at a public market?)

As a boy, the former Senate president used to sleep on a wooden bench at Divisoria market while he and his mother who used to sell shrimps waited for customers in the wee hours of the morning.

Villar also recounts how he lost his brother Danny to poverty. He said they were unable to buy medicines and could not afford medical services. Villar was only 12 when his younger brother died.

In a subtle swipe at his political rivals who believe that "the poor boy from Tondo" would recoup money spent for his campaign when he is elected president, he said in his ad: "Kung gusto kong yumaman pa, mananatili na lang ako sa pagnenegosyo." (If I want to become wealthier, I would have remained in the private sector managing my business.")

The new TV ad is a follow-up to Villar's popular "Naging Mahirap" commercial.

The ad's jingle has caught on like wildfire and became a favorite song for many Filipinos, particularly children.

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