Manuel Bamba Villar, Jr. is a Filipino businessman and politician. He was ranked as the fifth richest Filipino by Forbes Asia in their October 2007 issue. He is the President of Nacionalista Party and member of the Senate of the Philippines. He assumed the senate presidency at the start of the Third Regular Session of the 13th Congress along with Senator Franklin Drilon but was forced to resign from the post on 17 November 2008.
Early life and education
Villar was born on December 13, 1949 in Tondo, Manila to an AB and upper C class family, Curita Bamba, a seafood dealer, and Manuel Montalban Villar, Sr., a government employee. He is the second of nine children. He started helping his mother sell seafood at the Divisoria market at a young age to support his siblings and himself for school. Villar finished his elementary schooling at the Holy Child Catholic School in 1962 and his secondary education at the Mapua Institute of Technology in 1966. He then entered the University of the Philippines and took up business administration. He worked as a fish and shrimp trader while he studied, putting in long hours to get fresh catch in the market. He finished his bachelor degree and went on to take up master’s in accountancy at the same university.
Villar started his professional career as an accountant and financial analyst for companies like the Sycip Gorres Velayo & Co. and the Private Development Corporation of the Philippines. He was convinced he could make it on his own, so he quit his job and decided to try his hand on a business of his own. With a capital of P10,000 he got through a load, Villar bought two second-hand trucks and started his sand-and-gravel business in 1975.
It was during a delivery to a land developer when Villar came up with the idea of selling house and lot packages. In 1977, at age 28, the young entrepreneur made his first million after investing in a 160-house development project. After his success, he decided to specialize in low-cost housing, a field that major developers shunned. His strategy was to purchase small and irregular-shaped spaces that big developers couldn't sell, divide them into smaller lots, build a house, and then offer clients the whole package. The concept clicked and made Villar the country's housing industry leader having built more than 100,000 houses for middle class families. Because of his achievements in business and innovations in urban housing, he was made cover of an issue of the Far Eastern Economic Review. His life story was also featured in major publications like Asiaweek, Forbes, AsiaMoney and Asian Business Review.
In July 1998, Philippine Daily Inquirer obtained documents that revealed conversion of many Villar landholdings (around 5900 hectares) from agricultural to residential use was made without the required clearance from the Department of Agrarian Reform.
Villar presently holds significant stocks in C&P Homes, Household Development Corporation, Palmera Homes, Britanny Corporation, Adelfa Properties, Fine Properties, M.B. Villar Company, and Macy’s, among others.
Villar entered politics in 1992 and won three consecutive terms as Las Piñas and Muntinlupa representative posting landslide victories in the elections. His entrepreneurial background was put to good use when he was made a member of the House’s economic team. There, he pushed for various economic reforms such as the New Foreign Investments Act, the New Magna Carta for Small and Medium Enterprises, and the restructuring of the Central Bank of the Philippines. He earned praise from the media and from his peers for his outstanding performance and was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives in 1998.
Violations and Controversy
On Aug. 17, 1998, then Rep. Joker Arroyo stood up in the halls of Congress to deliver a privilege speech accusing newly elected House Speaker Manny Villar of several supposed violations against Article XI, Sec. 16 of the Constitution: “No loan, guaranty, or other form of financial accommodation for any business purpose may be granted, directly or indirectly, by any government-owned or -controlled bank or financial institution to the President..members of the…Congress…or to any firm or entity in which they have controlling interest, during their tenure;” against RA6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials); and against RA 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).
Senator of the Republic
He successfully ran for senator in the national elections on May 14, 2001 and was subsequently selected as Senate President Pro Tempore. He chaired the committees on Finance, Foreign Relations, Public Order, and Agriculture and Fisheries during his first term and was also elected president of the the country’s oldest political party, the Nacionalista Party. In July 2006, with the backing of a majority of his colleagues, he assumed the senate presidency. Villar is the first post-war government official who became both Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President.
Resignation and C-5 Controversy
On 17 November 2008, Villar was forced to resign as Senate President of the Philippines due to lack of support in the Senate. He was immediately replaced by elect Juan Ponce Enrile. Fourteen senators voted for Enrile; namely, Edgardo Angara, Rodolfo Biazon, Jose Estrada, Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Lito Lapid, Loren Legarda, Ana Consuelo Madrigal, Ramon Revilla, Manuel Roxas II and Juan Miguel Zubiri. Senator Lacson said that the controversy C-5 highway project triggered the move for a change in the Senate leadership. In 2008, Lacson exposed the redundant insertion of the C-5 Road project proposed by the then Senate president Manuel “Manny” Villar in the 2009 national budget. The said insertion allegedly amounted to 400 million pesos and benefited Villar’s real estate business.
On 4 September 2008, Villar confirmed his candidacy in the May 2010 presidential race. He filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) on 30 November 2009. The latest Pulse Asia survey shows that Villar and Liberal Party's standard bearer Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III received “virtually the same voter preference,” with 35 percent and 37 percent, respectively. Other rivals in the presidential race include former President Joseph Estrada, Senator Richard Gordon who claimed Villar tried to buy him out of the race, Senator Jamby Madrigal who claimed Villar offered her P1B and former Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro. Villar and most of the Nacionalista Party candidates campaign for an “all-out war on poverty.”
Senatorial candidate Franklin Drilon exposed the questionable Villar land deals. He presented an Iloilo official who reported that, according to public records, Mr. Villar’s companies first acquired parcels of irrigated land that were then allegedly fenced off, thereby depriving adjoining rice farms of much-needed irrigation. This allegedly facilitated the acquisition of up to 250 hectares of land that comprise the Savannah estate owned by Mr. Villar’s companies.
A group of Dumagats have come out showing documented proof that Mr. Villar’s companies used allegedly spurious land titles to obtain loans from the Bangko Sentral to prop up the precarious financial standing of the Villar-owned Capitol Development Bank. This alleged instance of land grabbing is based on the contention that the land titles were issued in 1944 or during the Japanese occupation when it was most unlikely for such documents to have been prepared at all.
Another group of concerned citizens have aired a land-grabbing charge against Mr. Villar’s companies pertaining to Paradise Park in San Pedro, Laguna.
Awards and Distinctions
Villar has received honorary degrees from universities and colleges all over the country in recognition of his success in real estate, his support for small and medium enterprises, and his exemplary performance in public service. Other awards he has received are:
- Ten Outstanding Young Men Award (1986) – Philippine Jaycees
- Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Marketing Management (1989)
- Most Outstanding CPA (1990) - Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants
- Most Outstanding UP Alumnus (1991)
- Manny Villar biography – Manny Villar's Official website
- Villar Bio – Philippine Senate Official website
- Manny Villar Profile – Nacionalista Party Website
- Manny Villar for President Social Network
- Villar Elected Senate President – Philippine Daily Inquirer
- Pulse Asia: Noynoy, Villar now in deadlock
- THE VILLAR EMPIRE Dream homes on farmlands
- Manny Villar’s “all out war on poverty” platform
- Will real Joker please stand up?
- Gordon says Villar tried to buy him out of race
- Now, it’s Madrigal’s turn: Villar offered me P1B
- How Manny Villar lied and used the death of his brother Danny