âName congressmen in DPWH corruptionâ
The lawmakers made the statements in response to the pronouncements of PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica that some lawmakers are conspiring with DPWH personnel and project contractors to commit corruption.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
‘Name congressmen in DPWH corruption’
Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - October 24, 2020 - 12:00am

Defensor says PACC’s blanket accusation unfair

MANILA, Philippines  — A ranking congressman yesterday challenged the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) to name the lawmakers allegedly involved in corruption in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

House public accounts committee chairman Mike Defensor said the PACC should identify the errant congressmen, as a blanket accusation is unfair to Congress as an institution.

“I am not against what the PACC is doing. We support their campaign against corruption in government. But I hope they name names because such blanket accusation is unfair to all congressmen, especially those who really have nothing to do with it,” Defensor told reporters via Zoom.

The Anakalusugan party-list congressman said the PACC should identify the lawmakers involved in corruption in DPWH and also present evidence before the appropriate body.

“If there are corrupt practices and congressmen are involved, then they (PACC) should identify these congressmen and not involve the entire Congress because there are congressmen and congresswomen who are really honest and clean,” he stressed.

Defensor revealed that their panel was actually planning to conduct a legislative inquiry into the reported DPWH corruption, which President Duterte himself confirmed, but will now drop the plan in response to PACC’s claim.

“But now that congressmen are being implicated, I would rather that the investigation be conducted by a third party. Because we will just be accused of whitewash if we investigate our colleagues here,” he explained.

On the other hand, good government and public accountability committee chairman Jonathan Sy-Alvarado said their panel is ready to investigate the DPWH corruption issue.

“If this matter is referred to our committee by the House leadership, then we will tackle it. But it would depend on the House leadership which designates matters to be handled by committees,” the Bulacan congressman explained.

The lawmakers made the statements in response to the pronouncements of PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica that some lawmakers are conspiring with DPWH personnel and project contractors to commit corruption.

Belgica, who was instrumental in the Supreme Court ruling that struck down pork barrel practice in Congress, alleged that there has been a conspiracy between congressmen, DPWH district engineers and contractors in anomalous projects.

But he did not identify the lawmakers supposedly benefiting from the anomalies in public works projects. The House leadership has yet to respond to the allegation.

Speaker Lord Allan Velasco earlier assured the public that there would be no “pork barrel” or “parked” funds in the P4.5-trillion national budget for next year.

In a recent interview, the Marinduque congressman said the 2021 General Appropriations Bill is compliant with the Supreme Court decision in 2013 that struck down the pork barrel system.

“We make sure that this is a constitutional budget based on the decision of the Supreme Court. We are all lawyers here and we are making sure that there is no ‘pork’ in the said budget,” he stressed.

The SC ruling specifically declared as unconstitutional the previous practice where lawmakers “intervene, assume or participate in any of the various post-enactment stages of the budget execution, such as but not limited to the areas of project identification, modification and revision of project identification, fund release and/or fund realignment unrelated to the power of congressional oversight.”

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Belgica was “spot on” in his pronouncement regarding the involvement of some congressmen in DPWH anomalies.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. The harder part is producing evidence,” Lacson said.

“I’ll take my hat off to Commissioner Belgica if he produces the damning evidence to put those people behind bars to serve as warning to the others,” he said.

“Lack of accountability because of the failure of state authorities to catch these crooks and give what they deserve is the best motivation for the others to commit similar corrupt practices, even with improved innovations,” the senator said. - Paolo Romero

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with