By Philippine News Agency
MANILA — Malacañang on Monday described as “vague” the allegation by House appropriations committee chair Rolando Andaya Jr. that government owes private contractors PHP100 billion in 2018 because of corruption.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said he does not see the connection between the failure of the Departments of Budget and Management (DBM) and Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to pay contractors and corruption.
“Malabo yata iyon (I think that’s vague). Why should the government owe the contractors because of corruption?” Panelo said in a Place briefing.
Panelo said it can only be considered corruption if contractors bribe the government in exchange for something.
“Magkakaroon ng korapsiyon iyong mga contractors kung may nilalagyan sila para makuha sila. Pero iyong ang gobyerno ang may utang sa kanila, walang koneksiyon sa korapsiyon (There would be corruption if the contractors used bribe to get something. But if the government owes them something, it has no connection to corruption),” Panelo said.
He said if government failed to pay them, the only reason could be that the contractors did not finish the project.
“Kung hindi sila nababayaran, siguro incomplete iyong ginawa nila (If they weren’t paid, perhaps their project is incomplete). The government will not pay you unless completed ang project mo (your project is completed),” he added.
Panelo, meanwhile, said Andaya should not be “lawyering” for the contractors, saying they could file their own complaints.
“If the contractors have something to complain, they should themselves file the complaint and address their concerns to the respective departments or to Department of Public Works,” Panelo said.
“Eh kung hindi, hindi nga yata nagrereklamo iyong mga contractor (If not, it doesn’t seem like the contractors are complaining) How can you be more popish than the Pope?” he added.
Earlier, Andaya claimed that concerned employees of the DBM and DPWH said the agencies owed contractors billions of pesos because of “an old system that forces contracts to cough up kickbacks just to be paid for completed infrastructure projects”.