MANILA, Philippines – For someone who built a political career that almost culminated in the Philippine presidency, calling it quits with politics may seem far-fetched. But former Senate President Manuel “Manny” B Villar Jr just says it as it is.
“I don’t like politics anymore,” Villar told a powerhouse audience at the Forbes Global CEO Conference 2015’s session on “Seek and You Will Find,” where he was one of the panelists on Wednesday, October 14.
“The 21 years I’ve spent in politics, that’s already enough. I don’t miss it at all. My financial indicators are good since I left politics,” Villar said matter-of-factly in an interview with Rappler.
Villar, ranked 13th in Forbes’ Philippines’ 50 richest list for 2015, entered politics in 1992 as representative of Las Piñas-Muntinlupa, and later became Speaker. In 2001, he was elected Senator, and served until 2013.
The entrepreneur, the only full-blooded Filipino on Forbes’ world’s billionaires’ list, said on Wednesday that he was wealthier before he joined politics.
“I got poorer after politics. Now I’m trying to recover. The best proof that I didn’t enrich myself in politics was I’m wealthier before I joined (politics),” he said.
As for the 2016 presidential race, he said he enjoys watching the candidates. “I like the idea of giving them advice. It’s actually good you’re not a player,” said Villar, who gunned for the presidency in 2010 but lost to then fellow senator Benigno Aquino III.
Based on voters’ preference polls, the top 3 candidates are Vice President Jejomar “Jojo” Binay, former Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, and Senator Grace Poe, the front runner.
Villar said they have all good economic platforms but, none of them appear to be bent on introducing changes.
“I’m often asked by businessmen from other countries if I’m seeing any change after the elections. No. I don’t foresee any change. All the candidates are adopting, more or less, the same economic policies,” he said.
Asked what needs to be changed, he quipped, “That’s the reason why (I’m not running) so I don’t have to answer this question.” But he added: “We need radical changes. All of them are planning to initiate changes. It’s not fair to say that they’re not planning to initiate changes.”
Infrastructure development, poverty alleviation, and tax reform are top among the agenda of the major presidential candidates.
The big question, said Villar, is whether they can fulfill their promises. “It’s easy to craft programs. What’s important is their capability to implement their programs.”
Villar said he likes what he is doing now, primarily as chairman of Vista Land & Lifescapes, Incorporate and Starmalls Incorporated, Philippines, and performing public service through his foundation.
“I feel much younger now [that] I’m back as an entrepreneur. I’ll probably die as an entrepreneur,” he said. – Rappler.com
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