Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano reprimanded the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for failing to sanction and blacklist contractors despite their involvement in anomalous projects exposed by the media.
“With no contractor blacklisted, are you saying that all contractors are innocent?” he asked.
The senator expressed his disappointment in the DPWH during Monday’s Senate Committee on Finance hearing on the proposed 2012 budget of the department.
He chastised the department for its failure to institute preventive measures to fight corruption and to clean the reputation of the agency.
“Throughout the years, DPWH has been known as an ‘old boys’ club’ where corrupt contractors and officials conspire with each other. Lack of action on DPWH’s part has only served to worsen its image, “ he said.
DPWH has often been dubbed the ‘milking cow’ of the corrupt – a reputation, the minority leader said, which has been confirmed by the department’s consistent first place ranking in the list of the country’s most corrupt government offices.
He cited the faulty disbursement of the Ondoy Fund and other overpriced projects as examples of anomalous projects that have served to cast a shadow of doubt on the public’s perception of the department’s integrity.
Adding to his list of the department’s questionable actions, Cayetano cited the failure of DPWH’s regional director to consult the local government of his hometown of Taguig regarding the department’s projects in the area.
“Why do you come here (in the Senate) every year for a budget and ask us to support it if you don’t even have one second in the 365 days comprising a year to consult the local government regarding your projects?” he asked.
He said that this violates Section 25 of the Local Government Code (LGC) that states that national agencies and offices with project implementation functions shall ensure the participation of local government units both in the planning and implementation of said national projects.
He noted that as a result of this lack of consultation, the DPWH legal department approved the construction of a commercial building in a residential zone.
The lawmaker challenged DPWH to begin the implementation of reform within its walls by not only identifying corrupt DPWH officials but also by blacklisting the contractors who served as their cohorts in carrying out anomalous projects.
“If you don’t ban these anomalous contractors now, there’s a chance that you’ll still be working with them during this term. Kawawa naman ang malilinis na tao sa DPWH,” he said.