THE Department of Public Works and Highways will do well to draw up a list of payees and properties acquired under the right-of-way scheme to ensure absolute transparency of its P27.5-billion payments for infrastructure projects in 2019, according to Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel.
“The amount is P27.5 billion smaller, or 49 percent less than the P56.4 billion earmarked this year for the DPWH’s payments for right-of-way expenses,” he said.
“To ensure absolute transparency and greater accountability, we would urge the DPWH to henceforth post on its website the list of payees, the amounts paid and the properties acquired to pave the way for the construction of new roads, flyovers and bridges,” Pimentel added.
The national government would spend up to P28.9 billion in 2019 for right-of-way payments for infrastructure projects.
The Senate Blue Ribbon committee earlier called on the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Justice to conduct a lifestyle check on government officials involved in a multibillion-peso right-of-way payment scam.
The Blue Ribbon found out during a series of hearings that the scammers had duped even the government of hundreds of million pesos as a result of fraudulent right-of-way transactions in Mindanao.
The right-of-way expenses are authorized by Republic Act 10752, An Act Facilitating the Acquisition of ROW Site or Location for National Government Infrastructure Projects.
“Under the law, the national government may acquire real property needed as right-of-way site or location for any infrastructure project via donation, negotiated sale, expropriation or any other mode of acquisition as provided by law,” Pimentel said.
The DPWH is required to settle all right-of-way obligations before the start of projects, Pimentel said.