MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The son of real estate tycoon and former senate president Manuel Villar said Tuesday he accepted presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte’s offer to head the public works department.
Mark Villar, who was reelected as Las Pinas representative, will take over a department that has started to shake off its reputation for corruption but has moved slowly in overhauling the country’s decrepit infrastructure.
“I confirm that presumptive president Rody Duterte asked me to be his DPWH secretary and after consulting with my family and constituents, I have decided to humbly accept his offer,” he said in a statement.
Duterte, who won the May 9 elections on the promise of a ruthless campaign against crime and corruption, has started to build his government ahead of his assumption into office on June 30.
On Monday, he named former agriculture secretary Carlos Dominguez as finance secretary, Arthur Tugade as transportation and communications secretary, and Jesus Dureza as peace adviser. He has offered former defense secretary Gilberto Teodoro to return to his old post.
Villar’s appointment seals the alliance between Duterte’s PDP Laban Party and the Nacionalista Party headed by the Villar patriarch.
Duterte is building a broad coalition of legislators to push for his agenda, which includes a shift to the federal form of government, relaxing restrictions on foreign ownership of business and reinstating the death penalty.
Outgoing Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said he was discussing the turnover of his office to the young Villar.
“There are continuing programs, so I just mentioned to him what are the outstanding matters he might wish to consider proceeding to implement,” Singson told ANC’s “Market Edge with Cathy Yang.”
The Laguna Lakeshore development project, the largest infrastructure project that the Aquino government offered to the private sector for funding will have to be reconfigured, he said.
The project’s flood control component will have to be removed since investors were reluctant to assume that risk, he said.
The US-schooled Villar was managing director of the family-owned Vista Land and Lifescapes before he joined politics. He also served as president of Crown Asia Corporation.
He was reportedly eyeing a run for the Senate in the last election but ran for reelection to the House of Representatives instead.
As congressman, Villar authored bills on education, health and
livelihood. He led the passage of the Co-Loading Act, which seeks to allow foreign vessels to transport and co-load foreign cargoes for domestic transshipment.
He also authored the Lemon Law, to protect consumers buying motor vehicles and the Negosyo Act to promote microfinance.
He served as the chairman of the committee on trade and industry, the vice chairman of the committees on overseas workers affairs, science and technology, labor and employment.
He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
He is married to fellow lawmaker Emmeline Aglipay of Diwa partylist. -- With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News