Housing czar and bilyonaryo Jerry Acuzar could be in hot water for donating P20 million to the re-election campaign of bible-quoting Senator Joel Villanueva.
In a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Luie Guia said the Omnibus Election Code clearly states that individuals orentities engaged in contracts or subcontracts with the government or any of its agencies are prohibited from making donations to anycandidate.
“This is a criminal offense and Comelec is duty-bound to hold those who might have committed violations of the election laws to account (both donor and recipient),” said Guia who is a senior professional lecturer at the Tañada-Diokno School of Law and the Departments of Political Science and Development Studies of De La Salle University.
Acuzar, who is Secretary of Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), is the owner of low-cost developer New San Jose Builders, Inc. (NSJBI) which inked a P2.147-billion contract to build a 19-story office of the National Housing Authority (NHA) in Quezon City in December 2021.
According to the PCIJ, New San Jose Builders’ contribution of P20 million stands as the largest corporate donation made to a senatorial candidate during the 2022 elections. Notably, the company did not provide support to any other senatorial candidate.
PCIJ said Acuzar, Villanueva and the Comelec did not respond to its requests for comment.
Villanueva was a political nobody before he was appointed by then President Noynoy Aquino as his TESDA chief. The son of Jesus is Lord founder Eddie Villanueva exploited his position to run for his first Senate term in 2016.
Villanueva has projected a spotless image during the campaign despite being under probe from independent government bodies that he misused public funds.
In 2016, then-Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ordered Villanueva’s dismissal for allegedly channeling P10 million of his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) allocation as CIBAC party-list congressman to a bogus non-government organization.
Despite Morales’ finding that Villanueva was guilty of “grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the interest of the service,” he held on to his post as a senator, claiming his identity was stolen to sign off on the anomalous use of funds.
The Commission on Audit (COA) also found several anomalies at tne Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) when Villanueva was its director general.
In a 2014 audit report, COA said Villanueva violated a Supreme Court temporary restraining order declaring the PDAF unconstitutional when he charged P49 million worth of training and assessment to the pork barrel fund.
COA said Villanueva was fully aware of the Supreme Court TRO because he issued a memorandum to TESDA officials about it.
In response to the report, Villanueva said the injunction doesn’t apply to TESDA since the Supreme Court ruling was only applicable in cases when the Department of Budget and Management has not yet issued the notice of cash allocation.
Villanueva’s defense, which showed his habit of twisting the truth for convenience, was rejected by COA.