MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday commended the Department of Public Works and Highways, which he once linked to corruption, for an ongoing "total revamp."
"I’d like to congratulate Secretary Villar for initiating a total revamp sa DPWH, and there will be more to come… I will dedicate the remaining years of my mayorship dito sa corruption. Talaga upakan ko kayo (I will really hit you),” Duterte said during the inauguration of the Skyway Stage 3 project, where Public Works Secretary Mark Villar was present.
Mark Villar has said he relieved 14 personnel who Duterte recently accused of getting kickbacks from the government’s infrastructure projects. He said he would also reshuffle employees to curb corruption.
Duterte said he hoped his successor would be "as forceful and resolute to confront this almost evil practice" of contractors getting kickbacks from projects.
“With the ongoing revamp, expect a more--When I leave the office, medyo kailangan lang i-control ng susunod sa akin,” he said.
(My successor would just need to control it a bit.)
In 2016, Duterte won the presidency after campaigning to fight corruption, crime, and illegal drugs.
But his administration has been dogged by scandals and allegations of graft and cover-ups in state agencies ranging from prisons, the state insurer, immigration, airports and customs, to police and the drugs enforcement agency, few of which led to convictions or high-profile resignations.
Last October, Duterte issued a memorandum directing the justice department to look into anomalies at state agencies until the end of his term in 2022. It gives the agency the power to decide what allegations to investigate and to work with other agencies.
"I hope that all government workers, officials are listening. This is a memorandum from me to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra... The subject is investigate of allegations of corruption in the entire government--Lahat (everything)," he said in a taped speech.
The Philippines fell 14 notches to 113th spot among 180 countries in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index last year.
Duterte is not eligible for re-election, but fulfilling his campaign pledge on corruption could help the chances of his chosen successor in the 2022 elections.
— With a report from Reuters