Task force to investigate corruption in DPWH
MANILA, Philippines — Public Works Secretary Mark Villar has formed a task force to investigate widespread corruption in his agency after another public shaming from President Rodrigo Duterte.
In an order dated Oct. 17 but released on Tuesday, following the President’s complaint of never-ending irregularities in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) on Monday night, Villar designated five officials to lead the Task Force Against Graft and Corruption or TAG.
In forming the group, Villar cited the President’s “stringent policy” against corruption, “allegations of widespread corruption,” and the need to boost the DPWH’s “efficiency and effectiveness” in building public infrastructure.
Villar ordered the task force to “investigate [irregularities] allegedly perpetrated by officials and/or employees of the department, based on valid complaints.”
Without giving a timetable, Villar directed the task force, after observing due process, to recommend to the Office of the Secretary through a resolution actions to take concerning the erring department officials or employees.
The task force is chaired by Mel John Verzosa, assistant secretary for legal services and special concerns, with Gliricidia Tumaliuan-Ali, internal audit service director, as vice chair.
The other members of the group are Human Resource and Administrative Service Director Michael Villafranca, Stakeholders Relations Service Officer in Charge Director Andro Santiago, and lawyer Ken Edward Sta. Rita, who is OIC of the agency’s goods and services division.
In a televised speech on Monday night, Mr. Duterte ranted again about rampant corruption in the DPWH but once more cleared Villar, saying he was rich and did not need to pocket government funds.
“Secretary Villar has a lot of money. He doesn’t need to be corrupt. The problem is in the lower ranks. It’s still going strong up to now,” Mr. Duterte said.
The President said he was considering placing another “structure” to improve the integrity of public works projects, but did not explain.
He also called on the people to report corruption, promised that he would show no mercy.
“I do not forgive corruption cases. I don’t. There’s no compromise, no anything. No quarters given, no quarters asked,” he said.
On Oct. 14, Mr. Duterte said no DPWH project could start without money changing hands, implicating project engineers and those in charge of right-of-way deals.
On Tuesday, Malacañang said the formation of the task force was the DPWH’s first step in dealing with corruption within its ranks.
“Let’s give them a chance because as far as I know, this is one of the rare moments that we’re addressing corruption in the DPWH that the President described as brazen and seemingly systemic,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told a press briefing.
The Palace would welcome the findings of the task force, Roque said. INQ
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