"Just like the war versus crime and illegal drugs, I believe that Manong Digong’s war on corruption will be “relentless and chilling,” as well."
I’m quite certain that President Duterte will get to the bottom of the controversy over the continued irregularities in government agencies that award projects to favored contractors.
The uproar was set off by the explosive privilege speech of House Majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr., taking to task Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno for multi-billion peso “insertions” surreptitiously earmarked for infrastructure projects.
Although Andaya, a former budget secretary under Gloria Arroyo, must know what he is talking about, not quite a few congressmen themselves have figured in pork barrel scams.
It’s also important to note that the House of Representatives had passed the P3.757-trillion national budget bill before Andaya dropped the bomb.
It’s been a long and common practice in the past administrations, particularly those involved in infrastructure program, to favor a few contractors in awarding plum and juicy projects in exchange for hefty commission, kickbacks or “tongpats” for signatory officials and politician backers, as well.
The same circumstances surround the case of CT Leoncio Construction and Trading Company from Sta. Maria, Bulacan, a little-known contractor of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that cornered at least 30 public works projects worth over P2 billion from the proposed 2019 national budget yet to be concurred in by the Senate.
Old hands at the DPWH attest that a few favored contractors are “personal choices” of the department heads or their chokaran lawmakers. Weeks or even months before the actual bidding schedule, the conspirators submit to the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) the name of their preferred contractor who eventually wins in the bidding of contract.
My source added that the real criteria in choosing the contractor is simply its capability to pay advance commissions or kickbacks to the said officials even before any bidding is held, worse even when the funds have yet to be approved.
Unlike ordinary contractors, these “favored ones” can afford to shell out 10 to 20 percent commission or even more, depending on how many agency officials down the line will be bribed, aside from the padrino lawmaker who gets the biggest piece of pie.
Miss “Virgie,” a small-time contractor, went to my office last week to divulge that a DPWH district official in Compostela Valley province had flatly barred her from joining the bidding for the P30-million repair and rehabilitation of a bridge and a P15 million flood control project in the said province last December 10.
She was also denied purchasing bidding documents, a requirement before one can join a government bidding program.
Asked why she could not join in the bidding, the DPWH official claimed, “Si
congresswoman at si
cong ang nagpa-pondo niyan at mayroon na silang ni-
contractor sa amin. Hindi po natin pwedeng pakialaman yan
On a phone-patch interview over at Radyo Pilipinas the following day, the said DPWH district engineer denied the allegation, saying the contractor did not talk nor see her in her office during that time. But the contractor, who was on the other end of the line retorted, “Ang galing ninyong magsinungaling dyan!
Days after the bidding, a certain company bagged two juicy projects. My source said the winning bidder is personally close to two lawmakers. This company has always allegedly bagged the projects endorsed by the said House reps’ pork barrel funds.
And is it true that the same scheme goes on over at the National Irrigation Administration under the administration of retired General Rolando Visaya?
My source said that a certain firm appears to be the favorite contractor of NIA these days, cornering over P1 billion projects for the repair, rehabilitation, and construction of irrigation systems in the Panay Islands.
My efforts to reach Administrator Visaya last Friday for comment proved futile as he is always out of his office reportedly doing inspections on “some projects” in the countryside.
Continuing corrupt practices, like these leakages, commissions, kickbacks, or “tongpats” in public works projects, are what beset the President’s program for genuine change.
Andaya pointed out that DPWH Secretary Villar, as well as President Duterte, have nothing to do with the pork barrel insertions for these anomalous deals.
Just like the war versus crime and illegal drugs, I believe that Manong Digong’s war on corruption will be “relentless and chilling,” as well.
In the meantime, let’s wait and see.