THE Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) are the “partners in crime” when it comes to public infrastructure. The DPWH-DOTC tandem is similar to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) when it comes to revenue collection: Corruption is as natural as the air that we breathe.
I asked a DPWH contractor if there is a District Engineer of the DPWH that he knows who is not corrupt. He smiled and said “No.” So I asked him a rhetorical question if the corrupt district engineers of the DPWH and their ilk are like the BIR and BOC examiners and their superiors who take advantage of their positions to enrich themselves? He smiled again in agreement and said “Yes.”
My past two columns on the “Never-Ending Lies & Corruption at the DPWH & DOTC” (MT, July 5 and June 28, 2015) elicited responses from readers. They appear to be knowledgeable with the workings of the DPWH, the apparent favorite government agency of President BenignoAquino 3rd in spite of the unbridled and shameless corruption there under the daang matuwid (straight path) of the Aquino administration.
There is the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) where the district engineer receives a 5-percent commission, while the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) gets 2 percent or a total of 7.0 percent. (It can go higher to a total of 10 percent.) Hence, for every P100 million worth of projects, they get P7 million spread among themselves.
The sum of P7 million may not seem much but if there is a total budget of P2 billion for the Engineering District, that would be P140 million in commission for only one year. In five years, the total commissions could easily reach P1 billion because the favorite DPWH of Pnoy has consistently received significant increased budgets.
In 2014, DPWH got P200 billion, then P300 billion for 2015. For 2016, the President announced during the 117th anniversary of the DPWH that he will double their budget to P600 billion with his 2016 annual budget of P3 trillion!
It is extremely alarming that President Aquino is giving DPWH P600 billion for 2016 when he has only six months left in his term next year. What is worse is that there will only be three months of actual work with public infrastructure projects during an election year.
For three months from March to May, there is a ban or a prohibition on public works projects during the campaign period up to the elections.
Let us not forget what President Aquino did when the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAP) and the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in November 2013 and July 2014, respectively.
With no more source of pork barrel, what Pnoy did was to, among others, increase the DPWH budget by 50 percent from P200 billion in 2014 to P300 billion in 2015.
Prevarications on Claims of DPWH Savings
The problem that arises when government figures are flagrantly fabricated is that they will be caught LYING. This is what has happened with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with its claims of alleged savings over the past years under the daang matuwid (straight path) of the sanctimonious Aquino administration.
Last June 27, 2015, the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) printed a letter of DPWH Secretary Rogelio Singson who wrote that the total savings of the DPWH in the past five years have reached P39 million. To quote Secretary Singson:
“Through the reforms we have initiated in the department’s procurement process, allowing full transparency, competitive bidding and reduced indirect costs of projects, the government was able to realize P39 billion in savings from the biddings alone since July 2010 up to the present.”
But the Inquirer reported a month earlier on May 25, 2015 that the alleged P39 billion savings for the past four and a half years. This is different from what the DPWH secretary wrote in his letter of past five years as in “since July 2010 up to the present.” To quote the first sentence of Jerry Esplanada’s report last May 25, 2015:
“… The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) has saved more than P39 million in cost for infrastructure projects during the past four and a half years… Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson said.” Not five years as contained in his letter!
As if the inconsistency in their alleged savings is not enough, DPWH fed another BIGGER figure of P48.5 billion to the President that he proudly announced during the 117th anniversary celebration of the DPWH that was reported in the Inquirer the next day on June 23, 2015.
“During the last four and a half years, the agency [DPWH] saved more than P48.5 billion through ‘full transparency in operations, including the conduct of competitive bidding for billions of pesos worth of infrastructure projects nationwide.”
Lies and corruption at DOTC
After more than two years since the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) started its probe of the MRT 3 extortion attempt in May 2013, the Office of the Ombudsman finally recommended the filing of criminal charges on June 27 against those involved with the alleged anomalies surrounding the maintenance contract of the MRT Line 3 along EDSA.
What is interesting to note here is the delay of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its filing of complaints with the Office of the Ombudsman. When Justice Secretary Leila de Lima was asked by the press more than a year ago when the DOJ would release the findings of the investigation, she said they need of the approval of the Office of the President before releasing the findings of the NBI!
(This is similar to what happened with the DOJ’s delayed filing of charges against administration allies linked to the P10-billion PDAF scam. It took them two years to do so!)
The statement of Secretary de Lima made it so obvious that the NBI probe would implicate the DOTC officials involved. Why? Because the DOJ does not need the approval of the Office of the President if none of the DOTC officials were involved in corruption!
So what happened was that Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 General Manager Al Vitangco 3rd, reportedly a close friend of President Aquino 3rd, was simply allowed by Malacañang to resign. It was a funny situation when Vitangcol first went on leave and then his resignation was suddenly accepted on the same day by the Office of the President. It seemed that there was no script that was followed by those involved.
The former MRT 3 top official is now complaining that he has been singled out by the Office of the Ombudsman. Indeed, Vitangcol was the only one among the DOTC officials investigated who was charged by the Ombudsman in connection with the awarding of the questionable service maintenance contract of MRT 3.
The service contract was given by the MRT-DOTC to the Philippine Trans Rail Management & Service Corp. (PH Trams) on October 20, 2012 and renewed three times until September 4, 2013. At P1.15 million per month for the MRT 3 maintenance, the total bill came up to P115.0 million for ten months.
DOTC Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya and Undersecretary Jose Perpetuo Lotilla should have been included in the charge sheet by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales. The service maintenance contract would not have been awarded to PH Trams if both Abaya and Lotilla did not approve the ontract. It is as simple as that!
As Vitangcol said in his motion for reconsideration with the Office of the Ombudsman: The award of the contract was “a product of collegial determination” among the DOTC officials like Secretary Abaya and Undersecretary Lotilla. They are the ones with the authority to discuss and decide on projects that need procurement. Indeed, it is the DOTC top officials that “decided on procuring the services of a maintenance provider in the interim period…”
Ombudsman Morales should look very closely at DOTC Underscretary Lotilla who was involved with the bidding and award of the P3.8-billion contract with the controversial license plates project of the Land Transportation Office (LTO). There is already an ongoing Senate investigation of the license plate scam by the LTO that started last month.
I completely agree with Sen. Ralph Recto that these new plates are not needed and the money paid for them should be returned to the vehicle owners. In the first place, the LTO cannot even deliver the new license plates that have been paid for since January 2015. This is simple and plain estafa committed by the government of President Aquino.
Question: When will all the lies and corruption at DPWH and DOTC end?