Villar to be included in corruption probe if evidence warrants, says wife
MANILA, Philippines — No less than the wife of Department of Public Works and Highways (DPHW) Secretary Mark Villar gave assurance on Thursday that the investigation being conducted by the Department of Justice to stamp out corruption will include him, if evidence warrants.
Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar said this pursuant to President Rodrigo Duterte’s earlier pronouncements for the DOJ to conduct a government-wide probe.
“Yes, because that is what the President also said in his memorandum that all government officials and employees are included and that if evidence warrants that the case be filed against them then we should do so,” she said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel when asked if Villar will still be included in the investigation despite the remarks of the President.
Aglipay-Villar said the praise showered by the President on her husband — as well as on Health Secretary Francisco Duque, who was similarly under fire for his alleged mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic — was only meant to express trust and confidence in his Cabinet secretaries.
“I think what he was expressing is his trust and confidence in [Health] Sec. [Francisco] Duque and Sec. Villar, but he also said in his memorandum that all government officials and employees are included in the investigation which means that no one is exempt,” she said.
Duterte earlier ordered the DOJ to launch a sweeping investigation into graft across all government agencies and to put special focus on the DPWH, which he earlier described as hounded with irregularities.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the investigation will start with the DPWH, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), Bureau of Customs (BOC), Land Registration Authority (LRA), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth).
Aglipay-Villar said BOC and BIR were included in the list as these are “corruption-prone agencies” and because the DOJ has repeatedly received reports of corruption in these agencies in the past.
“Previously there were also large allegations of corruption in both the BOC and BIR,” she said.
“With respect to DPWH, it was identified by the President as one of the agencies that should also be investigated first. The LRA is included because it was also identified by the President in one of his SONA,” she added.
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