MANILA— The public should give a chance to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to curb alleged corruption in the agency that President Rodrigo Duterte recently flagged, his spokesman said Tuesday.
Public Works Secretary Mark Villar earlier in the day created a task force made up of 5 officials to probe fellow executives and employees after Duterte on Monday night criticized the agency again for corruption.
"Siguro po pangunang hakbang pa lang iyan na ginawa ng DPWH para i-address ang problema na corruption na inilabas ng ating Presidente," said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque.
(Perhaps that is just an initial step that the DPWH took to address the corruption problem that the President bared.)
"Let’s give them a chance dahil sa ating pagkakalaam, e talaga this is one of the rare moments na ina-address natin ang corruption d’yan sa DPWH na sabi nga ni Presidente e lantaran at parang systematic," he told reporters.
(From what we know, this is one of the rare moments that the DPWH is addressing corruption there, which the President said was open and systematic.)
Senators earlier flagged around P345.25-billion in lump sum lodged in the DPWH's proposed 2021 budget. Some lawmakers and officials of the department also allegedly ask for "kickbacks" from contractors that win projects from the agency.
Duterte said in Monday's public briefing that subordinates of Villar were to blame for alleged corruption in DPWH.
"Si Villar mayaman. Sec. Villar maraming pera, 'di kailangan mangurakot. Ang problema, sa baba. Malakas pa rin hanggang ngayon. 'Yung mga projects sa baba, 'yun ang laro diyan," he said of the official.
(Villar is rich. Sec. Villar has lots of money, and doesn't need to commit corruption. The problem is in the lower ranks. It's still rampant. The projects at the bottom, that's where the game is.)
Malacañang last week said Duterte has "full trust and confidence" in Villar, whose billionaire family owns a real estate empire.
The DPWH task force is "welcome" to submit its findings to Duterte's office, said Roque. The public may also report anomalies to hotline 8888, he said.
The Commission on Audit (COA) has told the DPWH to recover a total of P431.933 million from contractors of projects which exceeded allowable costs.