Over the weekend, two columnists from the top two newspapers focused on the veracity of a presidential candidate’s claims in his political ads, and what the two columnists revealed was quite damning.
Economist Solita Monsod in Saturday’s edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and William Esposo in the Sunday edition of the Philippine Star took a hard look at Senator Manny Villar’s ad about his dead brother, who supposedly died because the Villar family didn’t have the money for proper health care. To double-check Villar’s claims, both Monsod and Esposo cited the death certificate of the brother, Daniel Bamba Villar, and the Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) for the address stated in the death certificate.
What they discovered that Villar may have been less than truthful in his ad about his brother. First of all, Daniel Villar died at the young age of three years and eight months due to complications resulting from his having leukemia, a cancer of the blood. I would agree with Esposo when he said that in 1962, when Daniel succumbed, that leukemia was more or less untreatable during that time, since treatments such as chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants were still years away. Whether one was rich or poor, as Esposo argues, having leukemia during that time was a terminal condition.
Second, Daniel Villar spent 13 days at Far Eastern University Hospital (FEUH), which was more or less considered prestigious in a time before Makati Medical Center and St. Luke’s Hospital. In his ad, Villar claimed that his family didn’t have the money to pay for health care, so how does this explain Daniel’s treatment?
A third possible falsehood revolves around the TCT, which showed that, at the time of Daniel’s death, the Villars were living in San Rafael Village, a well-to-do subdivision in the Navotas area. The TCT also notes that the Villars paid the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) a P16,000 mortgage for the 560-square meter lot, which, back in 1962, was a lot of money considering that the peso exchange rate was less than P10 to the dollar; Monsod and Esposo have differing estimates, but the mortgage would be worth more than a million pesos in today’s money. How does that figure jibe with Villar’s claim that his family was dirt poor?
Assuming that Daniel’s death certificate and the TCT are valid and truthful, the “once poor” story that Villar has woven in order to weld the masses to him has been exposed as a myth, merely smoke and mirrors to keep the masses in awe of a rich businessman.
I echo Esposo’s questions at the end of his column yesterday: “If Manny Villar can lie and use his dead younger brother like this, what makes you think that he will really improve and not worsen your life? What makes you think that he is not as greedy as he is being charged in this presidential campaign? What makes you think that you can trust Manny Villar?”
It will be interesting to see how the Villar camp will try to explain this issue away, especially since, in the last survey results conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), Villar has once again fallen back from the pack leader, Senator Noynoy Aquino by nine percentage points, and this was before the validity of his ad was questioned. How much more if people decide that the ad was a falsehood? How will the people feel about someone who outright lied? As the TV show once said, “Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.”
UPDATE: As expected, Sen. Villar claimed that the accusations are all “lies”, and that his detractors are “panicking” because he’s beginning to attract the local politicians to support him. Unfortunately for him, the documents speak for themselves, and I guess the people will decide what they believe come election day.