NBI, Senate urged: Probe ‘grave’ DPWH corruption

    Villar (Photo from pna.gov.ph)

    THE National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Senate should conduct a parallel probe into the statement of President Duterte that there is “grave” corruption in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which is under the leadership of Secretary Mark Villar.

    Administration lawmaker and Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr., a CPA-lawyer by profession, said the NBI and the Senate are both in a better position to hold credible investigation into the alleged unabated and widespread corruption within the DPWH that the President has been complaining about.

    “Let the axe fall where it may. The NBI can pursue a case build-up against people behind the systemic and systematic corruption at the DPWH. Some senators who have been talking about the huge lump sum appropriations in the DPWH budget for next year could help shed light into the President’s complaint by conducting a probe on the matter,” said Barzaga, president of the National Unity Party (NUP).

    Barzaga said it would be impossible for Villar, who still enjoys the trust and confidence of the Chief Executive, “to monitor effectively (all) the (public works) projects and therefore he has to rely on his regional directors and district engineers in the entire country.”

    President Duterte’s statement on the alleged corruption at the DPWH came after Senators Franklin Drilon and Panflio Lacson lambasted the DPWH for over P300 billion in lump sum appropriations embedded in the agency’s proposed P667.3 billion budget for 2021.

    “We need to help the President on his campaign to stamp out the deep-rooted corruption in all levels of governance. It’s really frustrating that this is continuing even in the middle of our pandemic battle,” Barzaga said.

    President Duterte earlier said no infrastructure project could start without going through “under-the-table” deals and called the attention of Congress to look into it.

    Duterte identified contractors and project engineers as the one involved in massive corruption in the agency, adding that part of expenses on government projects for infrastructure was allegedly allocated for kickbacks.

    “The continued web of corruption at DPWH has been jeopardizing the President’s Build, Build, Build programs with alleged substandard infrastructure projects. No less than President Duterte had stated that no construction will proceed without money changing hands,” Barzaga lamented.

    The investigation, the senior lawmaker said, can be used by concerned public works officials to present their sides and “save the institution from further disgrace and embarrassment.”