President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out at brazen corruption in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), short of saying it is already common knowledge in the public and agency itself.

Over television, Duterte said contractors and project engineers are the worse perpetrators of corruption in the DPWH, adding that part of infrastructure project costs usually go to kickbacks.

Senators Franklin Drilon and Panflio Lacson have chastised the DPWH after uncovering more than P300 billion in lump-sum appropriations included in its P667.3-billion proposed budget for 2021.

 “Projects, project engineers, all of that, the road right-of-way, the corruption there is grave. No construction begins without a transaction,” the President said.

Despite Duterte’s lashing out at DPWH, current Public Works Secretary Mark Villar still enjoys the confidence of the President, according to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in press conference on Thursday.

“Despite the corruption in the DPWH, Secretary Villar delivered. It helps that Secretary Villar’s family has more money than the DPWH,” Roque said.

The President is also not discounting a probe into alleged corruption in DPWH although the focus of Duterte now is getting rid of corruption in the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

Lacson has been the harshest critic of corruption in DPWH.

“It has become an open secret that commissions or kickbacks have become the rule rather than the exception in the implementation of public works projects involving not only some corrupt officials of the department but some legislators as well,” Lacson said.

Villar, on the other hand, said the agency has implemented initiatives to to deal with corruption.

“We are one with the President’s goal of ending corruption, that’s why we take it as a challenge to further institute reforms in the department,” he said at a news briefing. (sovereignph.com)

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