Less than a dozen solons linked to DPWH anomalous transactions — PACC

Published November 25, 2020, 11:17 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Less than a dozen lawmakers have been linked to alleged anomalous transactions based on an initial probe on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), according to Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica.

PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Some witnesses and documents have alleged that some congressmen have conspired with public works personnel and contractors in projects in their towns, Belgica said.

The allegations on alleged irregular DPWH projects, however, must still be further investigated by the Department of Justice-led task force or the Office of the Ombudsman. The PACC cannot probe further since it has no jurisdiction over congressmen and other elected public officials, according to Belgica.

“Yung exact number is less than 12 na nai-submit sa Pangulo na nakita namin after validation (The exact number is less than 12 submitted to the President that we saw after validation),” Belgica said over CNN Philippines Wednesday when asked about the number of congressmen linked to alleged corruption.

“Kailangan maimbestigahan talaga ng pormal. We need solid documents. We need probably a forensic of the projects kasi mayroon may nagsasabi na paulit-ulit na pinopondohan na tulay. Mayroon sinasabi na ghost project. May isang witness siya mismo hinihingian. So, lahat ng ito ay kailangan i-substantiate ng nagkakaso (This must be formally investigated. We need solid documents. We need probably a forensic of the projects because some have alleged that projects are repeatedly funded while others claimed about ghost projects. Another witness alleged about extortion so all of these must be substantiated),” he said.

The President recently declined to investigate or even name the lawmakers who allegedly took kickbacks from public works projects, citing the lack of jurisdiction over members of the legislative branch of government. Duterte instead opted to pass the list of lawmakers given by the PACC to the Office of the Ombudsman for investigation.

Belgica said he gave the PACC report to the Office of the President “two weeks ago or a month ago.” He explained that the commission was probing alleged anomalous transactions in the DPWH when some witnesses raised the names of some lawmakers.

“These are reports that come from witnesses, contractors, some are government employees who have personal knowledge of the case that have been reporting to our office tungkol sa DPWH,” he said.

“In the course of our investigation, some of it, mayroon mga, gaya noong isa naming witness nagsasabi ‘yung mga connivance, porsiyentuhan, and which involves DPWH, contractors, tapos mayroon po isa nagsasabi o ilan nagsasabi na mayroon mga parte ang mga legislators, hindi lahat, for a specific project (In the course of our investigation, some of it, like one witness claimed about the connivance, commissions which involves DPWH, contractors. Some said legislators, not all, took commissions for a specific project),” he added.

Asked about the amount of kickbacks in projects, Belgica said one witness claimed a lawmaker asked for 10 percent commission in a project.

When asked if the concerned lawmakers are allies of the President, Belgica: “Wala namang political party ang pinag-uusapan. Magkakasama naman kami — halos lahat. Kakaunti lang naman ‘yung hindi. Ang investigation namin hindi naman dahil directed towards a congressman. Wala kaming jurisdiction sa kanila (We’re not talking about any political party. We’re all allies, almost all. Only a few are not. The investigation is not directed towards a congressman. We have no jurisdiction over them.”

Belica also refused to identify the lawmakers, saying the commission does “not shame people” or turn its cases into a “bulletin board or noise board.” “Our goal is to bring cases to justice so we do it properly and formally,” he said.

Belgica said since PACC cannot probe those not under its jurisdiction, the commission will submit its report to the task force led by the Department of Justice for the formal investigation and possible case filing. The matter was set to be discussed further on Wednesday.

“Yun kasi ang ending natin dito is yung makasuhan, hopefully may makulong, at ultimately mabago ang sistema. ‘Yun ang trabaho namin, yung build up the case for case filing (The ending is the filing of charges, hopefully imprisonment, and ultimately changing the system. Our job is to build up the case for case filing),” he said.

The PACC, created in 2017 via Executive Order No. 43, assists the President in investigating and hearing administrative cases involving graft and corruption against all presidential appointees. It may also conduct lifestyle checks and fact-finding inquiries on acts or omissions of presidential appointees.