Duterte to DPWH execs in ghost projects: Quit! | Inquirer News
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Duterte to DPWH execs in ghost projects: Quit!

President Duterte, who earlier tagged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as being plagued with corruption, told the agency’s regional directors to resign and to face prosecution if they are involved in ghost projects.

“The main racket in the DPWH is the ghost project. There’s no delivery. There are many of those,” the President said in a televised address on Thursday evening.

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“They would make it appear that there is a project but there’s none. So the best way is to conduct an audit of those projects to determine if they are ghost projects or not, and I think they are plenty,” he said.

Substandard projects

He also said he wanted an investigation of substandard projects or those with partial delivery, like one that involved constructing restrooms without dividers between toilets, and most of the irregularities were committed by DPWH’s regional directors.

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“For the longest time, there has not been much investigation there. But those of you who are responsible for these, I advise you to resign now. Resign now because when the time comes, I will throw the book at you, even the kitchen sink, and then you will see that you will be prosecuted administratively and criminally and there [will] be no mercy here,” he said.

He said the offenses might only be considered misconduct administratively, but the offenses can also be criminally charged with malversation of funds.

The President said he would pursue the bureaucracywide probe he assigned to the “mega task force” against corruption to be led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the public would see that the Sandiganbayan would be busy hearing corruption cases.

“I really intend to clean government. At least, if I cannot eradicate it, there will be less graft in government. That is the people’s only consolation that [corrupt officials] are caught and jailed,” the President added.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra himself said on Friday that the success of the task force that he leads would depend on its credibility and its ability to arrest and to successfully prosecute corrupt officials.

Member-agencies included

“We are very much aware that the credibility of the task force hinges, to a great extent, on the ability of the member-agencies to clean their own respective backyards,” Guevarra said in a Viber message.

“The member-agencies … are included in the scope of the investigation and will be subjected to the same, if not stricter, standards and procedures as those adopted or to be adopted by the task force,” he said.

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In fact, Guevarra said, members of the mega task force would undergo “stricter” scrutiny to ensure its credibility in carrying out the President’s order to investigate and prosecute those behind the misuse of public funds until the end of his term in 2022.

The mega task force was the same body that investigated irregularities in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., but the President asked Guevarra to prioritize the DPWH.

Last week, Mr. Duterte lamented that graft and corruption, which he had promised to stamp out within the first six months of his presidency, had worsened under his administration.

Besides the DOJ, also tapped to lead the governmentwide crackdown were the Office of the Special Assistant to the President, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Prosecution Service.

Representatives of the task force met for the first time on Wednesday to discuss the parameters of the investigation they will conduct.

This early, Guevarra said they had already received at least 10 complaints about alleged irregularities involving state-funded projects.

He said the task force, which would initially investigate questionable contracts worth at least P1 billion, would immediately “sort out” the complaints and check their veracity.

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TAGS: corruption, dpwh, duterte, ghost projects
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