Duterte clears Villar of corruption in public works projects

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 20) – President Rodrigo Duterte cleared Public Works Secretary Mark Villar of corruption hounding the department.

"Si Villar mayaman. Sec. Villar maraming pera, 'di kailangan mangurakot. Ang problema, sa baba. Malakas pa rin hanggang ngayon. 'Yung mga projects sa baba, 'yun ang laro diyan," said Duterte during the weekly Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Monday.

[Translation: Villar is rich. Sec. Villar has lots of money, and doesn't need to commit corruption. The problem is in the lower ranks. It's still rampant. The projects at the bottom, that's where the play is.]

Duterte's defense of Villar comes amid the many corruption issues the Public Works Department faces, more recently the findings of the Commission on Audit that flagged the overpricing and delayed implementation of some of its infrastructure projects in 2019 and the around ₱345.25 billion lump sum for the agency in the proposed 2021 budget.

The President instead blasted the corrupt practices inside DPWH, where he mentioned corrupt bidders are illegally given percentage of their expenses to government officials.

"So by just looking at the bidders, you can see those who are hao-shiao (only for bribes). You participate in the bidding without really participating but they just put their name there and go down the price. So the one with the lowest bid wins," Duterte elaborated.

Duterte minced no words in putting an end to corruption in the government.

"I do not forgive cases sa mga corruption. Wala talaga. Walang areglo, wala lahat. No quarters given, no quarters asked," the President said.

[Translation: I do not forgive cases on corruption. I do not. No settlement, nothing. No quarters given, no quarters asked.]

The President reminded every government department to be transparent in presenting the costs, expenses, and bidders of big-ticket projects. Duterte encouraged the public to report corrupt practices of an agency in the government's 8888 hotline.

"I would like to remind everybody, every department of this, governments will pay. Magbayad ang gobyerno, mag-publish tayo ng mga --- lalo na the big tickets, 'yung mga bilyon-bilyon na mga proyekto, i-publish natin magkano o ilang bilyon ba 'yan o milyon, then pagkatapos ang mga bidders," Duterte assured.

[Translation: I would like to remind everybody, every department of this, governments will pay. We should publish (all bidding procedures and costs), especially in billions worth of big-ticke projects. We must publish how much the project costs in billion or million, then the bidders.]