Lawmakers asking for 'kickbacks' from DPWH contractors an 'open secret': Lacson

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 15 2020 02:32 PM | Updated as of Oct 15 2020 03:29 PM

Sen. Panfilo Lacson asks Finance Committee chairman Sen. Sonny Angara some clarificatory questions in plenary on August 20, 2020. Albert Calvelo, Senate PRIB

MANILA - Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday said lawmakers and officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) asking for "kickbacks" from contractors that won projects from the agency have become an "open secret."

Contractors have been "openly" talking behind the back of department officials and lawmakers who have been asking for commissions, Lacson said in a statement.

"Officials from the executive and legislative branches who ask for 'only' 10 percent are 'mabait, maginoong kausap,' (kind, gentlemanly), and those who demand 20 to 30 percent are 'matakaw' (greedy)," he said.

"Those who demand advance payments and renege on their word (are) 'balasubas' (swindler) and 'mandurugas' (cheater)," he added.

Lacson earlier flagged the increase of funds for local projects under the DPWH's 2021 budget proposal, noting that the agency is pitching to spend some P67 billion for the construction of multi-purpose halls during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The mangled version [of the DPWH's budget] alone - which contained a pattern of decreased budgets for national projects and increased budgets for local projects - is highly questionable," the senator said.

"It has become an open secret that commissions or kickbacks have become the rule rather than the exception in the implementation of public works projects involving not only some corrupt officials of the department but some legislators as well," he said.

Lacson said he would move to "cut or realign the excessive and unjustified" items in the DPWH's proposed P667.32-billion budget when the Senate deliberates on the spending bill in plenary.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has "full trust and confidence" in Public Works Secretary Mark Villar despite alleged corruption in his agency. 

In a late night speech on Wednesday, Duterte said a portion of the DPWH funds are being used to "give" to certain people, whom he did not identify.

Video courtesy of PTV