It’s no question that some lawmakers use their influence to push their local projects, said Senator Panfilo Lacson Friday.
But to provide concrete evidence to indict and prosecute these legislators is another thing, he added.
“Spot on. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. The harder part is producing evidence,” Lacson said in a text message to Senate reporters, in reaction to Commissioner Greco Belgica of the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) who earlier made the assumption that legislators are using their power to push their local projects.
Belgica said there is a conspiracy among congressmen, DPWH, contractors, and district engineers.
He said some congressmen assert their influence and “bully” some district engineers to pursue their local infrastructure projects.
“I’ll take my hat off to Commissioner Belgica if he produces the damning evidence to put those people behind bars to serve as a warning to the others,” Lacson pointed out as he emphasized that the government has failed to pursue accountability against these “crooks.”
“Let’s face it. Lack of accountability because of the failure of state authorities to catch these crooks and give what they deserve is the best motivation for the others to commit similar corrupt practices, even with improved innovations,” he said.
On Thursday, Lacson disclosed they have flagged around 42 districts that are uniformly allocated with P1 million worth of infrastructure project under the National Expenditures Program (NEP).
He earlier cited information claiming that some House members haggled with the DPWH on infrastructure projects which allegedly caused the delay in the submission of details on the P396 billion lump-sum appropriations lodged in the agency.
Lacson was also the one who flagged the “pattern of decreased budgets for national projects and increased budgets for local projects” in the addendum sent by DPWH in the NEP.
Under the originally submitted DPWH budget under the NEP, local programs were only funded with P176 billion but in the addendum, it was hiked to P229.006 billion.
The senator already manifested that he will seek amendments on some questionable DPWH projects if the House of Representatives’ budget version did not provide substantial changes to the NEP that was submitted by the Executive Department.
In his previous public briefings, President Rodrigo Duterte has mentioned the corruption within DPWH.
He, however, maintained his confidence in the leadership of DPWH Secretary Mark Villar.
The DPWH recently formed a task force that will probe the alleged irregularities inside the agency.