Duterte hits DPWH over alleged rampant corruption; but Villar still enjoys his trust
President Rodrigo Duterte has slammed the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) due to alleged rampant corruption.
But despite this, Duterte still has full trust and confidence with DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a televised press briefing on Thursday.
"Here in DPWH, it's (corruption) very strong. The project engineers, all of that, road right-of-way. There's too much corruption there," Duterte said during his televised message on Wednesday night.
"If Congress would want really to know, the DPWH projects, there's really such (amount) to give," he said.
But Duterte said he did not know who were involved in corruption.
"There are so many officials lined up in the bureaucratic maze, so I really don't know," he said.
Duterte made the statement as Congress deliberates on the proposed budget of the DPWH for 2021 amounting to P666.5 billion, 52 percent higher than this year's budget.
Despite Duterte's statement over the alleged corruption in DPWH, Roque said Villar could do his job well.
"(The President) has full trust and confidence with Secretary Villar. Despite the corruption in DPWH, Secretary Villar can deliver. It helps that the family of Secretary Villar has more money than DPWH," he said.
Villar is the son of billionaire Manuel Villar and Senator Cynthia Villar.
Asked if Duterte would call for an investigation over the alleged corruption in DPWH, Roque said, "that's possible. But let's leave it for a while because currently the President is focused on PhilHealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corp.)."
Duterte has ordered the filing of criminal and administrative charges against some PhilHealth officials, including its former president and CEO Ricardo Morales over the alleged massive corruption in the agency.
In the televised "Laging Handa" press briefing, Villar said he fully supports the goal of Duterte to end corruption in DPWH.
"That is why we take it as a challenge to further institute reforms in the department," he said, citing the establishment of monitoring systems in the agency.
He said all the DPWH projects now have geo-tagging devices to know their conditions.
He also said almost 30 contractors have been blacklisted.
"But, we, of course, take the challenge of the President and we will continue to fight harder to stop corruption," he said.
As to the proposed budget of the department, Villar expressed confidence that Congress would approve their budget for next year after clarifying all the issues. Celerina Monte/DMS