DPWH's Mark Villar files COC, joins Senate race

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 06 2021 09:22 AM | Updated as of Oct 06 2021 11:00 AM

Former DPWH Secretary Mark Villar poses for photos with wife Emmeline Aglipay-Villar after filing his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator at the Harbor Garden tent of the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on October 06, 2021. Val Cuenca, ABS-CBN News
Former DPWH Secretary Mark Villar poses for photos with wife Emmeline Aglipay-Villar after filing his certificate of candidacy (COC) for senator at the Harbor Garden tent of the Sofitel Hotel in Pasay City on October 06, 2021. Val Cuenca, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Resigned Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar on Wednesday filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) for the Senate in next year's elections.

He will be running as a guest candidate under a faction of the ruling PDP-Laban backed by President Rodrigo Duterte. The poll body has yet to decide whether the Duterte faction or the wing led by Sen. Manny Pacquiao is the legitimate representative of the political party. 

PDP-Laban president and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi earlier said Villar is one of 4 members of President Rodrigo Duterte's Cabinet who will run in the 2022 elections. 

Mark Villar, 43, is the third member of his family to seek a Senate seat. His mother is incumbent senator Cynthia Villar while his father Manny Villar is a former president of the upper chamber.

The Villar family owns a group of real estate and commercial companies, with an over $7 billion net worth.

Mark Villar served as a congressional representative of Las Piñas from 2010 and was already elected for a third term in 2016. But he resigned from the House of Representatives after he was appointed by Duterte shortly after the 2016 polls to serve as head of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Tasked to lead the Duterte administration's ambitious "Build Build Build" infrastructure program, the DPWH under Villar has been plagued with alleged anomalies. 

The DPWH, which earlier sought a P667.32-billion budget in 2021, was criticized by senators for having around P345.25-billion in lump sum lodged in its proposed spending plan. Some lawmakers and officials of the department also allegedly ask for "kickbacks" from contractors that win projects from the agency.

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

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