Senator Panfilo Lacson clarified that he is not accusing Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) chief Mark Villar of being corrupt after the senator’s team discovered double allocations in the DPWH’s proposed 2021 budget.
“At the outset, let me be clear about one thing. When I and my staff scrutinize the budget of the DPWH and raise issues on the appropriations and utilization of funds by the agency, we do so without the slightest intent of casting doubt on the integrity of [Public Works] Secretary [Mark] Villar and any of his undersecretaries,” Lacson said during the Senate’s deliberations on Wednesday.
However, Lacson said that if there were “proof of evidence” that the secretary or any official was involved “directly or indirectly” in corruption, “I would not hesitate to say so even in their faces.”
So far, the senator said there was nothing in the rumor mill that “Secretary Villar has dipped his fingers into any of the shenanigans that some sectors say are almost of public knowledge in the agency.”
“Having said that, I would like to state for the record that I agree with President [Rodrigo] Duterte, albeit not completely, that Secretary Villar is not corrupt. Not because he is rich but because he is not corrupt, period,” Lacson stressed.
Lacson says DPWH chief Villar not corrupt
The senator revealed that congressional district representatives’ insertions ranged from P620 million to P15.351 billion.
As an example of double allocation, Lacson cited the P1.791-billion budget for repairing the Davao City Coastal Bypass Road, traversing Bago Aplaya-Times Beach-Roxas Avenue.
However, another P4.049 billion for the Davao City Coastal Bypass Road traversing Bago Aplaya-Times Beach-Roxas Avenue was also appropriated.
Lacson added he discovered double appropriations in the following proposed projects:
- Kennon Road to Bypass Road Baguio City (P53 million)
- Iguig Bypass Road in Cagayan (P51.9 million)
- Balagtas Flyover in Batangas City (P166.3 million)
- MPB site development in Barangay Carmay East in Rosales, Pangasinan (P177.5 million)
- Convention center in Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental (P174.3 million)
The DPWH’s budget was submitted in the plenary at 1 am on Thursday during the Senate’s marathon plenary session.