‘Local pols behind DPWH graft’

Credit to Author: JAIME G. AQUINO, TMT| Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2020 16:40:40 +0000

DAGUPAN CITY: Members of the House of Representatives themselves visit the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to expedite release of funds for infrastructure projects in various congressional districts across the country.

Then, according to a watchdog based in Pangasinan province, these “so-called representatives of the people” will just have to wait a while for “kickbacks from project contractors with whom they had connived.”

“Personal na nagpupunta ang mga kongresista sa opisina ng Department of Budget and Management upang mapadali ang pagpapalabas ng pondo sa mga nakalinyang proyekto sa kanilang nasasakupan dahil kumikita sila ng malaking halaga na ibinibigay ng mga kontratistang kasabuwat na nila (Congressmen personally visit the Department of Budget and Management to fast-track release of funds because they would later receive big amounts from contractors, who are their accomplices in the racket),” the Citizens’ Movement Against Corruption, Crime, Illegal Drugs and Gambling Inc., headed by Prof. Salvador Singson-de Guzman, said on Friday.

At the same time as making the accusations against the legislators, Singson-de Guzman expressed support for recent statements made by President Rodrigo Duterte about the allegedly rampant corruption at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

However, he also blamed other politicians such as barangay (village) captains and mayors, whom he also charged with receiving kickbacks from the contractors of the infrastructure projects.

“Totoo ang sinabi ni Pangulong Duterte na talamak ang kurapsyon sa ahensya ng DPWH, subalit hindi sila ang dapat na sisihin kundi mga pulitikong nagpapayaman at lumalakad na mapondohan ang mga proyektong isasagawa sa nasasakupan nila (Corruption being widespread at the DPWH is true, but the agency is not at fault because these politicians, who enrich themselves, are behind the graft at the department),” said Singson-de Guzman.

In an interview with The Manila Times, he said the representatives of the congressional districts are “always intervening” in the implementation of all the infrastructure projects within their jurisdictions; this time, in connivance with some regional and district engineering officials of the DPWH.

Singson-de Guzman spared DPWH Secretary Mark Villar from the allegedly rife graft in the department because the latter does not deal with the contractors at all.

He cited some DPWH officials in Region 1, who said, “Walang kurapsyon, kung hindi nakikialam ang mga pulitikong nakakasakop sa amin (There would be no corruption if politicians did not meddle with what we do).”

Singson-de Guzman said the House representatives are allegedly collecting 45 percent of the funds intended or allocated for projects such as roads, bridges, canals and river banks.

He added: that, “The DPWH cannot stop this traditional kind of illegal practice because the politicians will be mad at them and will harass them once they oppose what they want.”

Singson-de Guzman said the legislators tell DPWH officials to award the infrastructure projects, funded by the General Appropriations Act, to their favorite contractors or to dummy contractors.

On the awarding of the projects, he added, the chairman of the Bids and Awards Committee, created by the DPWH, will choose the contractor of choice of a congressman, making the subsequent bidding a farce.

A DPWH official told The Manila Times that a representative, after the awarding of the projects, will collect 45 percent of the funds from the contractor before the implementation of the projects.

“I have been serving the DPWH for more than 30 years, and I make this statement for the information of President Duterte, who is also a former mayor and a former congressman,” said the official, who is a district engineer.

Refusing to be named, the district engineer added, “If the President really wants to stop corruption at the DPWH office, I am urging him to issue an executive order, disallowing or prohibiting the intervention of the politicians in our job.”

Pangasinan has six representatives in Congress.

Earlier, the President denounced what he described as massive corruption in the DPWH.
On Oct. 14, 2020, he said no infrastructure project could start without going through under-the-table deals.

Duterte singled out contractors and project engineers as the biggest purveyors of corruption in the department.

However, the President said he still trusted Villar, said Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque Jr. in a news briefing on Thursday.

Despite the widespread corruption in his department, Villar was able to deliver, Roque added.

He did not discount a probe of the alleged corruption in the DPWH.