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DPWH probe ‘to spare no one’

Villar to focus on project engineers; PACC won’t name solons involved

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said Saturday no one would be spared from the investigation of the recently-created Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) task force to look into the alleged anomalies in the agency.

At the same time, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica said the agency would not name lawmakers under investigation for alleged involvement in corruption at the DPWH, saying this would “compromise” the probe.

This, as Anakalusugan Party-list Rep. Mike Defensor challenged him to reveal those involved after he earlier bared that some lawmakers were in cahoots with DPWH personnel in alleged corrupt practices.

“I understand the plight of Mrs. Nasino and I extend my condolence to her. I take this opportunity to extend my condolence to her,” Peralta said.

“We tried our best... and I hope Mrs. Nasino understands also the court and the others. That’s what really happened. There was no intention to delay it,” the Chief Justice added.

“I don’t want to do blind items or make a bulletin board or noise board of our investigation...if I were to say who is being investigated before the inquiry or who the suspects are, it’s like telling the suspect that I will arrest them and that will compromise the investigation,” Belgica told a news briefing.

Belgica said the National Bureau of Investigation or Office of the Ombudsman would conduct the investigation, citing PACC’s limitations.

The Public Works chief made the statement during an interview on Dobol B sa News TV to clarify the probe would only focus on those in lower levels after President Rodrigo Duterte said those occupying lower ranks in DPWH were likely to be involved in corruption.

Villar created the task force, to be composed of five officials, in a department order dated October 17 to be headed by DPWH Assistant Secretary Mel John Verzosa.

Villar said the investigation would put greater focus on the project engineer levels, adding DPWH would release its findings “in the next month or so.”

Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier said corruption was an “open secret” in the implementation of public works projects, “involving not only some corrupt officials of the department but some legislators as well.”

Villar said the thrust of the investigation was to collect evidence, and inquire into all accusations so the officials would have “hard result.”

He said DPWH was also coordinating with the PACC and Infrawatch as well as the internal affairs of concerned agencies.

Recently, a Commission on Audit report showed that DPWH had P100 billion worth of delayed and unimplemented projects in violation of procurement law and agreed contracts.

In its 2019 annual audit report on DPWH, COA said these delayed and unimplemented projects reached P101 billion in 2019, lower than the 2018 figure of P118 billion.

DPWH attributed the delayed implementation of projects to the delayed release of capital outlay allotments, which only started in June 2019 due to delayed approval of 2019 national budget law.

Senators earlier flagged around P345.25-billion in lump sum inserted in the DPWH’s proposed 2021 budget, with lawmakers and officials of the department said to be asking for “kickbacks” from contractors that win projects from the agency.

Topics: Mark Villar , Department of Public Works and Highways , Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission , Greco Belgica
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