12 House members linked to corruption: PACC: Solons got commissions from DPWH projects

    Belgica (Photo from PCOO)

    ABOUT a dozen members of the House of Representatives have asked commissions from contractors of public works projects of government, with some demanding as high as 15 percent, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) said yesterday, quoting witnesses who have filed complaints at the agency.

    Commissioner Greco Belgica did not name names.

    He made the disclosure after President Duterte said he has received from the PACC a list of alleged corrupt congressmen. However, he said, he could not investigate them and is leaving the investigation to the Ombudsman because the congressmen belong to the Legislative Branch of government, which is a separate and co-equal branch of the Executive.

    Belgica reiterated the PACC did not investigate the lawmakers. He said their names came up during the agency’s review of government transactions and projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

    Belgica said further validation and investigation are needed to build a case against the erring lawmakers.

    In an interview with Teleradyo, Belgica said one lawmaker was reported to have received a P10-million commission from a P100-million project, while other lawmakers would get 5 to 15 percent of the amount of the project.

    He said a witness reported to the PACC that a congressman told him he would not be allowed in the lawmaker’s district if he does not “fix” him.

    Belgica said the PACC list contains about 12 names, but in an interview with CNN Philippines, he said it was less than 12.

    He also said the PACC received documents and evidence about the corrupt lawmakers, and DPWH personnel and contractors allegedly involved in “ghost” projects that have been repeatedly funded but nothing had been built, to contractors being asked to give commissions in exchange for projects.

    He said the PACC could not conduct a formal investigation on the congressmen as the agency’s mandate covers only presidential appointees, not elected officials.

    He said it is the Ombudsman and the task force led by the Department of Justice that could look into the allegations against some congressmen.

    Belgica assured everyone that the probe would be done properly and professionally and is not intended to malign anyone.

    President Duterte has repeatedly talked about corruption in projects of the DPWH, saying some department officials are involved in irregularities. Last month, he tasked Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to conduct a government-wide investigation on allegations of corruption.

    He had also committed to address corruption in the last two years of his office.

    Guevarra, said officials outside of the Executive Branch can still be included in complaints.

    “During our meeting last Monday, I clarified that, if, in the course of investigating a particular act or transaction alleged to be tainted with corruption, our task force finds that certain government officials outside of the executive department are involved, then these officials will necessarily be included in the complaints that the task force may file before the Office of the Ombudsman,” he said.

    “The President stated that if the involvement of a member of Congress, for instance, is germane to the anomalous transaction, then the latter’s inclusion in criminal charges will have to be endorsed to the OMB through the secretary of justice,” he added.

    “It’s the corrupt act or transaction that is being investigated. Kung sino man ang sasabit (whoever will be implicated), it will not matter if outside siya ng executive department. That is how we should view it,” Guevarra he said.

    Earlier, Guevarra said the task force has received about 60 complaints of alleged irregularities in government projects.

    He said most of these are DPWH projects. There are complaints involving the Land Transportation Office, Bureau of Customs, Land Registration Authority, PhilHealth, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Bureau of Corrections, Bases Conversion and Development Authority and local government units.