‘My conscience is clear:’ More lawmakers deny links to DPWH corruption
MANILA, Philippines — More lawmakers accused of alleged corruption involving infrastructure projects denied on Tuesday claims against them.
In a statement, Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan said her inclusion in the list of allegedly corrupt congressmen is “not only malicious but also prejudicial.”
The list was submitted by the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) and read by President Rodrigo Duterte in a speech aired Monday night.
The President stressed that there is “no hard evidence” against the lawmakers included in the roster.
“The recent report released by the [PACC] linking my name in an alleged corruption regarding a botched up project by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)…is not only derogatory but also prejudicial as it holds no water due to the lack of evidence—a fact which was also pointed out by the President in the same speech to which I am deeply saddened that such allegation exists,” Tan said.
“This baseless accusation stems from an infrastructure project that I had spearheaded in 2016, the Gumaca Bypass Road,” she noted.
She explained that the project, which cost P800 million, was designed primarily to save motorist travel time in Gumaca, Quezon.
“Likewise, it was intended to decongest heavy traffic in the area, stimulate local economic growth, encourage investors that would create jobs in the locality and improve the lives of my constituents,” she said.
“Moreover, it is to fast track economic growth in nearby provinces by improving travel time through the said road project, such as those traversing the Manila-Bicol route and vice versa,” she added.
While the road has yet to be paved, Tan noted that a section of it is already being utilized by motorists as an alternate route to avoid the heavy traffic in the town of Gumaca.
“I had been very optimistic that this project would be completed within the five-year timeframe, stipulated in the contract,” she said.
Tan added that she had been “diligent in ensuring that the project—from its conception to the release of funds”
The project, according to Tan, “went through its proper course” to make sure that it will directly benefit her constituents and neighboring provinces.
“[A]s proof, even the DPWH cited the said project in their official website as part of the agency’s deliverables. Had there been issues regarding its construction and implementation, it should be DPWH’s responsibility being the sole agency mandated to conduct all construction operations of public infrastructure of the state,” she said.
She said that the project had been derailed due to the pandemic and the recent typhoons that caused massive flooding in the region, which she pointed out was “something that I no longer have control.”
“It is hard not to feel dismayed and powerless with the sudden turn of fortuitous events, especially for my constituents who had been equally hopeful to the opportunities this project might bring to the locality. And as the duly elected representative of the 4th District of Quezon, it is my duty to address their most pressing concerns and offer solutions to the best of my ability,” she said.
Tan insisted that her “conscience is clear” and that she “merely performed what my constituents expect of me and to bring into completion this project.”
“In fact, just like them, I too am a victim for hoping that this project would be delivered without delay and within the timeframe that was promised. If there is someone that should be a subject of investigation it is the agency mandated to carry out the full implementation of the project,” she said.
Nevertheless, she thanked the President for mentioning with caution that the accusations made against her and her colleagues “are bereft of evidence and are merely grounded on speculations.”
“To clarify and put an end to this issue, I am willing to submit myself and to cooperate with the designated authorities conducting the investigation on this matter,” Tan said.
“As a public official, and a responsible citizen, it is my duty to be transparent and to be accountable to my constituents, especially on matters involving public interests,” she added.
‘The truth will prevail’
Isabela 4th District Rep. Alyssa Sheena Tan, for her part, said: “there is absolutely no truth” in the allegations against her.
Tan, in a Facebook post, denied owning a construction company that has been awarded infrastructure projects in her district.
Naging napakalaking bahagi po kayo ng buhay ko sa loob ng dalawang taon. Nakilala nyo po ako nang mas maigi at…
“I have never owned any construction company. I do not have any shares in any construction company. This truth can easily be verified by the PACC by simply checking and validating with the concerned government agencies that they surely have access to,” she said.
“Simula po nang ako ay pinagkatiwalaan nyo sa posisyong ito, ang bawat araw ng aking panunungkulan ay itinuturing ko pong pribilehyo mula sa inyo. At kung gaano ko po pinaghirapan ang tiwala ninyo ay ganoon ko rin pong kasigasig na pag-iingatan ito,” she added.
(Since you have trusted me for this position, every moment of the day that I serve this post, I consider it a privilege coming from you. And how I work hard to keep your trust is also the same how I want to protect it.)
Tan, a lawyer, won her first-term stint as congresswoman of the province’s fourth district after she defeated former Rep. Giorgidi Aggabao.
The lawmaker said she is willing to cooperate with the PACC with its investigation.
“I will most indulgently cooperate and provide any information to the PACC to help them with any further investigation. The truth will prevail,” she said.
House Deputy Speaker Misamis Occidental 2nd District Rep. Henry Oaminal, meanwhile, said he was saddened by his inclusion in the PACC’s list but said he would welcome any probe on the matter to clear his name.
Noting the President’s pronouncement that there is still “no hard evidence” against the lawmakers included in the PACC list, Oaminal categorically denied involvement in any anomalies or corrupt activities.
The congressman explained that the construction company, which the PACC report mentioned he owned, was founded in 1988 “long before” he entered public service in 207.
“When I became congressman, I sold all my shares. Upon verification, HSO Construction Corporation does not have any construction projects in all government agencies in Misamis Occidental, including DPWH,” he said.
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