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Name solons involved in DPWH corruption, Defensor urges PACC

/ 02:30 PM October 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael Defensor on Friday urged the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to name the lawmakers it believed is involved in the corruption within the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Defensor, who chairs the House committee on public accounts, made the remark after PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica claimed in a radio interview that “DPWH district engineers are bullied by congressmen.”

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“Itong inisyatibo nila [PACC] hindi ko naman ito hinihinto at wala naman akong, hindi naman ako laban dito sa ginagawa nila. Pero sana lang naman, maglabas din talaga ng mga pangalan,” Defensor said in an interview with reporters.

(I am not against PACC’s initiative but hopefully they can release the names of those allegedly involved.)

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“Ituro talaga kasi parang ang hirap naman na buong Kongreso at institusyon ang tinatamaan dito na parang nagkakaroon lang ng blanket na pagtuturo at accusation against the members of Congress,” he added.

(It is difficult if it is the whole Congress and the whole institution that is being hit here due to the blanket accusation against the members of Congress.)

Defensor said that if there are indeed corrupt practices being committed involving members of the House, the PACC should name these congressmen and have a thorough investigation to ascertain the accusations.

“Kasi nga napaka hirap naman di ba kung ikaw ay isang kongresista ka may pamilya ka tapos mababasa sasabihin ay may mga corruption diyan, pero hindi sinabi kung sino, eh kawawa naman na pati ikaw nadadamay na wala ka naman alam,” Defensor said.

(It is difficult. Let’s say you are a congressman and you have a family and the public will get to read that congressmen are involved in corruption but it was not specified who, it’s unfortunate for those congressmen who will be affected even if they are not involved.)

Third party investigators

Asked if his committee will investigate the alleged anomalies in the DPWH, Defensor said he has no problems doing so.

However, Defensor also said that a third-party investigation may be better especially if indeed there are congressmen involved in the corruption.

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“Baka sabihin naman nila, self serving gagawa ako ng investigation pagkatapos mga kasamahan ko baka magkaroon ng, mag abswelto, hindi maganda,” Defensor said.

(They might say it’s self-serving if we will conduct the investigation and in the end our colleagues will be cleared. It’s not a good look.)

“So, I would rather that they do a third party investigation. Labas na sa Kongreso, labas sa DPWH, pag aralan talaga nila kung ano yung nakikita nilang supposedly graft and corrupt practices,” he added.

(So I would rather [prefer] that they do a third-party investigation—outside Congress, outside DPWH. Study thoroughly the supposed graft and corrupt practices.)

Corruption within

Anti-corruption advocates are convinced that corruption indeed exists deeply within DPWH, especially in securing a bid for government road projects. The anti-corrupt crusaders said the government must include in its investigation the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management and the Bases Conversion and Development Authority to clear their names, being in the forefront of the bidding processes.

The investigation is necessary to determine if contractors were indeed being asked to cough-up millions of “under the table money” by erring officials in order to secure a bid for such construction projects.

“Contractors are pinned down despite adequately submitting pertinent and complete documents. They will make it appear that the contractors failed in the bidding procedure, making these contractors to resort in filing a motion for reconsideration (MR). Corruption happens during the submission of MRs because they will ask for bribe money in order for the MR to prosper and for us to win the bid,” the anti-corruption groups said in a statement.

“How far or deep President Duterte’s knowledge in corruption with his administration, or these personalities are protected of those people close to the president? Congress should step in and review and investigate all biddings involving DPWH, BCDA and PS-DBM whose biddings cover project P1 billion up. After all, these funds are people’s money,” the group lamented.”

Conspiracy theory

In a radio interview with Radyo 5, Belgica mentioned “conspiracies” linking congressmen in anomalies in infrastructure projects.

“Ang mga DPWH district engineers binubully ng mga congressman ‘yan e,” Belgica said.

(DPWH district engineers are being bullied by congressmen.)

“Ang mga district engineers maliliit na empleyado lang yan e. At any time, kapag sinibak mo ‘yan, nilipat mo ‘yan, wala hong magagawa yan e. So a powerful person like a congressman really can assert, influence para galaw-galawin silva sa mga pwesto,” Belgica said.

(District engineers are just small employees. They cannot do anything if you fire them or transfer them. So a powerful person like a congressman can really assert and influence the movements among their posts.)

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar has ordered the creation of a task force to probe the alleged anomalies in projects of the DPWH following President Rodrigo Duterte’s corruption claims.

The DPWH Task Force against graft and corruption will probe “anomalies in the agency based on valid complaints,” Villar said in a Department Order dated Oct. 17.

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TAGS: dpwh, DPWH corruption, Mike Defensor, PACC
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