AMID silence from the Nacionalista Party, presidential candidate Sen. Richard Gordon repeated in a forum with Cebu-based students yesterday his claim that Sen. Manuel Villar offered him a Cabinet position in exchange for withdrawing from the race.

BAGUMBAYAN Party presidential candidate Sen. Richard Gordon said that Sen. Manny Villar has offered him a cabinet post and a reimbursement of his campaign expenses in exchange for withdrawal of the presidential race.

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The Bagumbayan Party’s Gordon, who addressed a youth forum at the University of San Carlos-Technological Campus (USC-TC), said the offer included reimbursement of his campaign expenses.

He said it was also supposed to be in exchange for joining a plot to oust Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.

Enrile chairs the Senate committee who drafted the report recommending that Villar return P6 billion the government allegedly lost in the C-5 road extension project.

“Villar is afraid of the C-5 controversy. He will do everything he can to cover up the issue,” said Gordon, a former tourism secretary. “He said he will make sure that I will be appointed as a member of the Cabinet in any office of my choice.”

The senator said that an emissary sent by Villar, whose name he did not disclose, came to him about three days before the Senate adjourned its session for the elections.

The emissary, Gordon added, also asked him to remove his signature from the report of the Senate committee of the whole that censured Villar.

“I refused it. Obviously I was chagrined,” Gordon said.

The investigation centered on allegations the C-5 road extension was realigned to pass by Villar’s property, for which his company received road-right-of-way compensation.

At the “2010 Addressing the Youth Agenda: Candidates Dialogue with the Youth” at USC-TC, Gordon told the students the youth has the most at stake in the May 10 elections.

He urged them to vote for a leader who has a proven track record and who has a defined vision for the future of the country.

“It’s so easy to run. But look at the track records of the candidates and what they have done for the country,” he said. “Piliin natin yung may karanasan at yung alam niya ang kanyang pupuntahan (Let’s choose those who have experience and who know where they want to go).”

Gordon and his vice-presidential candidate Bayani Fernando are in Cebu for a two-day sortie.

A Social Weather Stations survey from Jan. 21 to 24, 2010 placed Villar in second place, with 35 percent of the respondents’ votes. Gordon placed sixth, with two percent. The survey covered 2,100 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus-minus 2.2 percent. (PDF)