MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte has "full trust and confidence" in Public Works Secretary Mark Villar despite alleged corruption in his agency, Malacañang said Thursday.
Duterte, in a late night speech on Wednesday, said a portion of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) funds are being used to "give" to certain people, whom he did not identify.
"Full trust and confidence po [si Presidente] kay Secretary Villar dahil despite the corruption in DPWH, naka-deliver po si Secretary Villar," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters.
"It helps na mas marami pang pera ang pamilya ni Sec. Villar kaysa sa DPWH," he said.
(The President has full trust and confidence in Secretary Villar because despite the corruption in DPWH, Secretary Villar delivered. It helps that his family has more money than the DPWH.)
Villar's billionaire family owns a real estate empire.
Duterte is committed to curbing corruption at DPWH and state medical insurer PhilHealth, said Roque.
Asked if the President would order an investigation of DPWH in the same way that he did PhilHealth, Roque said: "Posibleng gawin po iyan pero hayaan na po muna natin iyan dahil sa ngayon po nakatutok pa sa PhilHealth ang Presidente."
(That is possible, but let's leave that for now because the President is still focused on PhilHealth.)
Whistleblowers earlier accused PhilHealth officials of pocketing some P15 billion in state funds, and approving overpriced projects and reimbursement to supposedly favored hospitals.
A task force formed by Duterte earlier recommended charges against former PhilHealth CEO and President Ricardo Morales and other officials.