Madrigal reconciles with VillarsBy Jerry E. Esplanada
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Former Senator Ma. Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal has made peace with Senator Manny Villar and his wife, Las Piñas Representative Cynthia Villar, whom she both repeatedly bashed during the May 2010 presidential elections campaign period.
Madrigal told the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday that “it’s very good that we’ve made peace with each other.”
“Past is past. It’s good that Mrs. Villar, who like me is part of the Liberal Party senatorial slate, will be in the same team that will definitely push for legislative reforms, including those pushed by the Aquino administration,” she said.
Both Madrigal and Manny Villar were losing candidates in the May 2010 presidential derby won by President Aquino.
Madrigal phoned this reporter while having lunch at a Greenhills, San Juan City, restaurant after the LP event at Club Filipino, also in San Juan, where the President formally announced the ruling party’s senatorial lineup.
She recalled that “Mrs. Villar was sitting there at the holding room when I came in. We shook hands out of courtesy.”
“Later, Senator Manny Villar and I also shook hands. He has just signed the document formalizing the coalition between the Nacionalista Party and the LP with the President as witness,” said Madrigal.
She claimed she had “never been ill at ease in the presence of Mr. and Mrs. Villar. I have always been at peace with myself and I didn’t hold any rancor or anger against them. ‘Di ako nagtatanim ng galit (I don’t nurture a grudge).”
“I have nothing personal against them. What I fought for in the past was based on principles,” she said.
On talk that Aquino had advised her to refrain from Villar-bashing in media, Madrigal just laughed.
As early as Sunday, Madrigal had expressed willingness to make peace with the Villars.
In a text message, she said “after a long and winding political road, we should let bygones be bygones.”
Madrigal said she did “not mind sharing the same LP campaign stage with Mrs. Villar now that we are on a straight path.”
“I have nothing personal against her,” she stressed, adding that “what I fought for in the past was based on principle. I promise to continue espousing the same principles of integrity and transparency.”
Madrigal was part of the Senate committee of the whole, which recommended the censure of Senator Villar for alleged unethical conduct in connection with the C-5 Road Southern Extension Project controversy that supposedly benefited his family’s real estate business at the expense of the government.
Asked if she would make peace with Mrs. Villar should the opportunity arise, she said, “If it happens, it happens.”
In 2010, Villar-bashing was a staple fare in Madrigal’s campaign sorties.
Unflinching in her anti-Villar crusade, Madrigal had warned that “voting for Villar means electing Cynthia.”
She repeatedly blasted the NP candidate for his role in the C-5 road southern extension project controversy, his expensive advertisements, as well as his alleged secret alliance with the Arroyo administration.
According to Madrigal, a Villar presidency would be “7 x 7 x 7 worse” than then President Gloria Macapal-Arroyo’s.
“He has already promised to make (Arroyo) speaker. Desperate moves for desperate people, but don’t forget desperate people are dangerous,” she once told this paper.
Sometime in late April 2010, Madrigal had planned to greet Villar “with the kindness and compassion of trying to see God in everyone.”
She also “prayed that Manny Villar may be moved by God’s love to a place away from the political arena…I think he really is happier as a businessman than a politician.”
Madrigal also clarified her differences with Villar were “issue-based, not personal. So it’s up to him to patch up his differences with the country, especially the poor.”
Before she became senator in 2004, Madrigal was presidential adviser for children’s affairs from 1999 to 2000.
During her six-year term at the Senate, she chaired the following committees: environment and natural resources; peace, unification and reconciliation; youth, women and family relations; and cultural communities.
Madrigal authored, among others, the Magna Carta for Women and Tubattaha Protected Area Act, as well as bills penalizing marine pollution and discouraging discrimination of Muslims and other ethnic minorities.