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DPWH ‘graft’ probe urged

A SENIOR administration lawmaker urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Senate to conduct a parallel probe into what President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte described as an alleged massive corruption in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

Cavite Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” 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 sump appropriations in the DPWH budget for next year could help shed light on the President’s complaint by conducting a probe into the matter,” Barzaga, a lawmaker serving his 4th stint in Congress,

“This may serve as an opportunity for the senators to exercise its legislative function and draw inputs from possible investigation into the matter similar to PhilHealth investigation,” Barzaga explained.

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

Barzaga welcomed the President’s call to probe the still alleged rampant corruption in the department.

“We need to help the President in 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,” Barzagasaid after President Duterte complained that no infrastructure project could start without going through under-the-table deals.

“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.

Barzaga said the “investigation can be used by concerned DPWH officials and other personalities to present their sides on serious corruption allegations made by President Duterte and save the agency as an institution from further disgrace and embarrassment.”

He recalled that President Duterte identified contractors and project engineers as the biggest source of corruption in the DPWH.

The President went to the extent of saying to Congress that part of expenses for government infrastructure projects were allegedly allocated for kickbacks.

But Barzaga vouched for Villar’s untarnished image, explaining “I had not heard of any irregularity on the DPWH secretary’s projects during his stint as congressman of Las Piñas City.”

“Despite the President’s statement on the brazen corruption in the department, Sec. Villar still enjoys the trust and confidence of the Chief Executive,” Barzaga said.

With more than P600 billion worth of infrastructure projects, it would be impossible for Villar to monitor effectively the projects and therefore he has to rely on his regional directors and district engineers in the entire country.