THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) reported on Friday that it has so far blacklisted 25 contractors since 2016 as President Rodrigo R. Duterte again rebuked the agency and told corrupt officials to “resign now.”
Mr. Duterte, in a televised address Friday evening, said “ghost projects” are the most rampant source of corruption, referring to infrastructure programs that do not get delivered.
“We are still investigating DPWH. Ang DPWH ang pinaka-racket diyan is ‘yung ghost project. So walang delivery, ghost project. Marami ‘yan (In the DPWH, their main racket is ghost projects. There is no delivery of the program, ghost project. There’s a lot of that in DPWH),” he said.
DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar, meanwhile, said the blacklisting of contractors is tied to the sanctioning of officials who are colluding with them.
“This is a testament that collusion between contractors and DPWH officials is not being tolerated. If any of our implementing offices are tolerating erring contractors by letting them continue with their projects without sanctioning them, the Department will not hesitate in imposing disciplinary action against them,” Mr. Villar said in a statement on Friday.
Mr. Villar noted that the DPWH has banned the biggest number of contractors in the last four years compared to five from 2010 to June 2016, and eight in 2005 to 2010.
The DPWH has also adopted new systems such as the use of drones and satellite photography or geotagging for real-time monitoring of projects.
Mr. Duterte, who recently ordered a government-wide anti-corruption drive, has repeatedly pointed to the public works department as among the agencies with the most fraudulent activities.
At the same time, the President has cleared Mr. Villar from involvement in the anomalies.
“For the longest time, there was not much investigation being undertaken, but those involved in those anomalies, I advise you to resign now… because when the time comes, I will throw the book at you, even the kitchen sink,” Mr. Duterte said.
Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, in a briefing on Friday, said the President’s “mega task force” assigned to probe corruption in the entire government will be responsible for auditing DPWH projects. — Gillian M. Cortez