DPWH orders execs, personnel to explain
The issuance of show cause orders is part of the investigative process being implemented by the agency’s Task Force Against Graft and Corruption, according to DPWH Secretary Mark Villar.
Geremy Pintolo

DPWH orders execs, personnel to explain

Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) - November 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Public Works and Highways has issued 11 show cause orders against various officials and personnel who could have been involved in irregularities in government projects, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar said yesterday.

The issuance of show cause orders is part of the investigative process being implemented by the agency’s Task Force Against Graft and Corruption, according to Villar.

“We are coordinating with the secretary of justice. We already have an internal task force. As of the date, more than 11 show cause orders have been given. So this is part of the process. We issued show cause orders so that they will give an explanation,” he told the Kapihan sa Manila Bay virtual news forum.

The public works chief explained that an investigation would then be conducted, and should it generate probable cause, then charges would be filed against those involved in graft and corruption.

“If there is found to be cause, we can institute a suspension. It will go to the process as per civil service procedure. Of course, we have to go through the process to investigate them. At least, we have already compiled many cases. Many had the show cause, so we are also expecting that there will be accomplishments in the near future,” he said.

Villar expressed belief that corruption is something that they know really exists in government.

“It is a systemic problem that needs systemic solution. We can minimize that through the implementation of the computerization of the projects. Monitor the project through a satellite,” he said.

The agency is also requiring the contractors to take pictures of their projects before they start them, according to the DPWH chief.

“We also need to minimize the level of discretion among the officials, which is one cause of corruption in the department. We don’t have the resources and I’m not an investigative body, but we can put more systems in place,” he said.

So far, the agency has blacklisted more than 25 contractors compared with 13 in the past 10 years, according to Villar.

“Transparency and technology (are keys). The root cause of corruption is discretion. We open up biddings and monitor them through videos. We really have to minimize waste, minimize discretion. If we have the system, you could easily identify engineers. Improve the investigative function of the DPWH. We are doing it in the internal investigation. We are eyeing to have a body composed of lawyers and engineers to enhance that capability,” he said.

The show cause orders issued to the agency’s personnel will give them the chance to explain their side, according to the secretary, and it is just among the actions taken by its internal task force that investigates alleged anomalies within the department.

Villar said the show cause orders were issued following complaints from stakeholders.

He added that some of the complaints are about the procurement and delays in the implementation of certain projects, and even the lifestyle of the agency’s employees.

Villar gave assurance that the accused persons would be given the opportunity to comment on the accusations and that the evidence presented by the complainants would be thoroughly examined.

“At this point, we are at the show cause. We will wait for the comments and then, when they have commented, we will proceed to investigate – and suspend if necessary – if grounds are sufficient,” he said, stressing that they also have to look at the evidence.

“Because sometimes, it is possible that the personnel were just being pressured or threatened through the complaints,” he said, adding the sanctions will depend on the gravity of the charges and could range from administrative to criminal penalties.

The issuance of show cause orders to DPWH employees came after Duterte’s order last month to the anti-corruption task force headed by the Department of Justice to focus the investigation on the alleged irregularities in the DPWH.

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