More than just a rich kid, Mark Villar a 'brilliant, very good worker' — Duterte

President Duterte's first impression about Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar was wrong.

President Rodrigo Duterte leads the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the NLEX-SLEX Connector Road Project in Caloocan City on February 28, 2019. Assisting the President are Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar and businessman Manuel Pangilinan. (Malacañang)

The President said he thought Villar was out to find "glory" as a member of the Cabinet, but realized he was actually a brilliant and efficient worker in government.

Villar is the son of real estate magnate and former Senator Manny Villar and incumbent Senator Cynthia Vilar. The former Las Piñas City congressman was appointed to head the Department of Public Works and Highways (DWPH) back in 2016.

Duterte had nothing but praise for Villar while taking pride of the administration's infrastructure programs during a television interview Tuesday evening, June 8.

"He’s a very good worker, talagang may alam (He's really brilliant)," Duterte said about Villar when he sat for an interview with religious leader Apollo Quiboloy.

"I thought kasi anak ng mayaman ito si Villar, baka mag-secretary lang dahil --- for the --- for the glory of it. Noong nagtrabaho, bilib ako, sabi ko (I thought since Villar is a rich kid, maybe he just wanted to be a Secretary for the glory of it. When he worked, I was impressed. I said) he is really a worthy son of Cynthia and Manny Villar," he said.

The President cited the DPWH's construction of many roads and other projects that have improved mobility under Villar's watch. He also mentioned that EDSA has been decongested while the country's airports have seen improvements.

"Ang husay. Ang raming ginawa na daan, 29,000 kilometers of road (He's skillful. Many roads were built, around 29,000 kilometers of road)," Duterte said about Villar's performance.

"Pati lahat ng airport ngayon maganda na (All airports are now beautiful too)," he added.

The administration earlier launched the massive Build Build Build program, that includes the construction and improvement of roads, bridges, airports, ports, among others, not only to improve the country's infrastructure network but also accelerate economic growth. It is banking on the infrastructure program, among others, to help spur economic recovery after the debilitating blow of the pandemic.

In 2016, Villar resigned from his congressional post and accepted the President's offer to assume the DPWH portfolio. The Wharton-educated Villar won his third and final term that year.