Cynthia Villar slammed over business interests anew

MANILA, Philippines—An advocacy group called out Senator Cynthia Villar for allegedly blocking policies that were unfavorable to her family's businesses.

Campaign for Land Use Policy NOW (CLUP NOW) accused Villar of using her chairmanship of the senate committees on agriculture and food, agrarian reform, and environment and natural resources, to favor Vista Land, which was owned by her family.

The group also claimed Vista Land converted prime agricultural lands into real estate projects. Moreover, CLUP NOW said that Villar has blocked the proposed national land use act.

The proposed measure seeks to create a national agency that will categorize land resource into 4 categories namely, protection, production, settlements development, and infrastructure development. The proposal has been pending in congress for over 2 decades. (READ: Aquino certifies National Land Use Act as urgent)

Villar slammed the group's claims and insisted that she was being singled out.

Bakit ako palagi, Vista Land ang pinupuna nila? Bakit nagagalit ba sila sa akin o pinupulitika nila ako?” Villar said on Thursday, May 31, during the sidelines of the Rice Achievers' Awards. 

(Why do they always criticize me and Vista Land? Why are they mad at me or are they politicizing me?)

“If you want to move the land use plan [away] from the local government , then repeal the local government code,” Villar said.

The billionaire senator also said that the local government, particularly mayors, would get mad at her if she will support the measure.

Moreover, Villar said adding another agency for land use would be considered red tape.

“We want the ease of doing business. 'Pag naglagay ka ng land use agency, dinagdagan mo na naman ng dadaanan ang papel para ay ikaw ay makakuha ng permit,” Villar said.

(If a land use agency is put up, you will add more layers of paper work to get a permit.)

Meanwhile, Villar reiterated that "there is no ban of [land] conversion."

"We are not the only company doing land conversion. lahat ng developer, lahat ng nagtatayo ng factory, lahat ng nagtatayong commercial establishments, they are doing land conversion," Villar added.

(All developers, all that build factories, all that build commercial establishments, they are doing land conversion.)

Villar has recently confronted an advocate of the land use act during the confirmation hearing of Agrarian Reform Secretary John Castriciones

Critics have previously brought up Villar's business interests in Boracay. (READ: No conflict of interest in Boracay probe – Villar)–Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.

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