Mark Villar to step down as DPWH Secretary on Wednesday

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 04 2021 09:48 PM

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar during groundbreaking ceremonies in Intramuros, Manila, Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File
Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar during groundbreaking ceremonies in Intramuros, Manila, Tuesday, July 17, 2018. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - Public Works Secretary Mark Villar is resigning from his post this week, he announced Monday, the same day a faction of the ruling PDP-Laban party disclosed that he is running in next year's elections.

Villar did not cite the reason for his resignation when he made the announcement during his agency's flag-raising ceremony earlier in the day.

"This is my last day after 5 years. I have officially filed my resignation effective Wednesday, so I will be stepping down on Wednesday as Secretary," he said.

"Sinabi ko na kay Presidente na ito ang pinakamalaking karangalan sa buhay na maging bahagi ng DPWH," he added.

(I told the President that to be part of DPWH is the biggest honor in my life.)

Villar was named by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, head of one of the PDP-Laban factions, as among four members of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet who will run in the 2022 elections. 

"Secretary Panelo, Villar tuloy po ang pagtakbo (will continue their bid), then si Greco will run, Secretary Roque will also run. There are also other candidates we're considering to run under PDP," Cusi told ANC's Headstart.

Aside from Villar, Cusi was referring to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, anti-corruption commission chief Greco Belgica, and Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.

As early as mid-August, they have been among officials being eyed by PDP-Laban Cusi-wing to be part of its senatorial slate.

Political aspirants have started filing their certificates of candidacy for next year's elections last Friday. The Commission on Elections will close the filing on Friday, Oct. 8.

In his speech at his last flag-raising ceremony as DPWH chief, Villar gave tribute to the department and its workers, saying he "was the luckiest man" to work with them after he was appointed to the position by Duterte in 2016.

"In the previous 5 years, I feel very rich because of all the friendships I made in this department. Kaya mayaman na mayaman na ako dahil sa inyong lahat," said the son of the second richest Filipino, former Senator Manny Villar.

(I feel very, very rich because of all of you.)

As of posting, there is no announcement yet on who will replace Villar at the DPWH.

If he succeeds in getting a Senate seat next year, the 43-year-old official will be the third member of his family to be part of the chamber. His mother is incumbent Senator Cynthia Villar.

The Villar family owns a group of real estate and commercial companies. Earlier this month, Forbes said Manny Villar's wealth is estimated at $6.7 billion.

Villar, whose wife is incumbent Justice Undersecretary Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, served as a congressional representative of Las Piñas from 2010.

After getting reelected for a third term in 2016, he resigned to join Duterte's Cabinet, during which he implemented along with other key members the administration's "Build Build Build" infrastructure program.

Duterte criticized alleged anomalies in the DPWH but cleared Villar of any involvement.

Some lawmakers and officials of the department allegedly ask for "kickbacks" from contractors that win projects from the agency.

- with reports from John Gabriel Agcaoili and Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News

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