Business as usual at Senate for dismissed Villanueva
MANILA, Philippines — While hurting from an order dismissing him from public service, Sen. Joel Villanueva is going about work like usual at the Senate.
The neophyte senator is staying busy at the chamber despite the Office of the Ombudsman’s ruling removing him from public service over the alleged misuse of the P10-million discretionary or pork barrel funds as a lawmaker in 2008.
“It really hurts, but we have to be focused,” Villanueva said Tuesday night.
“I try to be busy. I still go to all my commitments, going about my schedule,” he said during a brief interview by phone with the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
On Wednesday, he reached the Senate after lunch after fulfilling morning appointments outside his office.
Villanueva remains on duty as his dismissal was referred to the Committee on Rules. Its chair, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, has cited a provision in the Ombudsman Act exempting members of Congress from the Ombudsman’s disciplinary authority.
He is expected to appeal the ruling, even if the case would go all the way to the Supreme Court.
Last Monday, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered the dismissal of Villanueva, a former sectoral representative, incidentally for the Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) partylist, for his allegedly anomalous disbursement of pork barrel funds in June 2008 to a dubious non-government organization for livelihood programs in Region 11.
The prayerful Villanueva, son of Jesus is Lord founder and preacher, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, was found guilty of grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service.
Apart from the administrative penalty, Morales ordered Villanueva and nine others indicted for graft, malversation of public funds, and malversation through falsification of public documents.
Villanueva, however, could only wonder why the case passed the Ombudsman’s scrutiny as he decried the lack of due process.
“With all the glaring pieces of evidence pointing to my innocence, how else do you want me to prove my innocence?,” said the senator, also formerly head of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
He reiterated that the involved amount was “not my PDAF.” He earlier pointed out loopholes in the case, including forged signatures in the documents, and how one document had “Buhay Partylist” as a letterhead, an organization he did not and does not represent. SFM
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