Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar has created a task force to probe the alleged corruption involving employees and officials inside the agency, just days after President Rodrigo Duterte raised the problem.
In a Department Order dated October 17, Villar ordered the creation of the Task Force Against Graft and Corruption (TAG) to be headed by Assistant Secretary Mel John Verzosa.
TAG will be vice-chaired by DPWH Director Gliricidia Tumaliuan-Ali, and count as members DPWH Director Michael Villafranca, DPWH Stakeholders Relations Service officer-in-charge Andro Santiago, and Atty. Ken Edward Sta. Rita.
“The TAG shall investigate anomalies allegedly perpetrated by officials and/or employees of the department, based on valid complaints,” the order read.
The order also gave TAG the authority to create a Technical Working Group that will serve as a secretariat and aid in the exercise of the TAG’s functions.
In his public address on Monday, Duterte once again mentioned the rampant corruption inside the DWPH. However, he defended Villar saying the latter has a lot of money and doesn’t need to resort to corruption.
The corruption anomaly inside the agency stemmed after the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged at least PHP 101.69 billion worth of delayed unimplemented projects from the 2019 annual audit report of DPWH.
These projects include the construction of school buildings and farm-to-market roads.
State auditors also found discrepancies in the costing of 184 projects by various offices under the agency in 2019 which tallies to a total of PHP 431.9 million. Among the projects flagged was the retrofitting of the C.P. Garcia bridge along C-5 Road in Pasig with a contract cost of PHP 182.6 million.
Despite anomalies, Malacañang clarified that Villar still enjoys the President’s trust and confidence.