MANILA – Senator Christopher “Bong” Go said the expanded inter-agency task force created by President Rodrigo Duterte to address systemic corruption in government will also investigate the alleged ghost projects in the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
In an interview during the distribution of assistance to flash flood victims in San Pablo City, Laguna on November 7, Go said Duterte has asked the expanded task force, which is headed by the Department of Justice, to look into alleged ghost projects in DPWH.
“Tuluy-tuloy po iyan, pinapasilip na po ni Pangulo ‘yung mga ghost projects. Pinapasilip n’ya dito sa mega task force, pinapa-audit niya po ang lahat ng mga, ‘ika nga, kung mayroong mga ghost project, at mananagot po ang dapat managot. Tuluy-tuloy po ‘yan (The President wants the ghost projects be examined by the mega task force. He wants these audited if there are really ghost projects and have those involved face the consequences),” Go said in a news release on Monday.
He also said erring public officials who refuse to comply with Duterte’s policies against corruption will face consequences for their deeds.
“So pag pumasok ka sa korapsyon, hindi mo sinunod ‘yung paalala ni Pangulo (So if you’ll go into corruption, you’ll not following the President’s reminder to ‘just do what is right and avoid corruption’), you face the consequence,” Go said.
Go appealed to the corrupt government officials to shape up and do what is right.
“‘Yung mga korap sa gobyerno, maawa naman kayo sa taumbayan. Nagbabayad ng buwis ang mga ‘yan, they expect nothing less. Lahat po ng binayad nilang buwis ay magagamit po sa tama at wala pong masasayang. Walang masasayang, walang matatapon po dahil sa korapsyon (Those corrupt in government, have pity on the people. They pay taxes, they expect nothing less. All the taxes they paid should not be spent in corruption),” he said.
Duterte earlier revealed corruption in the DPWH, prompting Secretary Mark Villar to form a fact-finding task force.
Go lauded Villar, calling the official’s step in the right direction, but recommended that a whole-of-government approach is necessary to address perennial issues of corruption in the bureaucracy.
He stressed that there must be “no sacred cows” and every official must take responsibility in cleansing their ranks, emphasizing the President’s warning that he will not tolerate “even a whiff of corruption”.
Go also recommended that preventive suspensions must be imposed on suspected corrupt officials to preserve the integrity of the probe.
He also raised the need for lifestyle checks to identify government workers who live beyond their means.
Amid the reported continuing corruption in the DPWH, Bureau of Immigration, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, and even in the agriculture sector, Go recommended to Duterte the creation of the new and more empowered task force with an expanded scope to investigate reported anomalies in any government agency. The task force will operate until Duterte’s term ends in 2022.
“Exasperated na po si Pangulong Duterte dahil sa korapsyon sa gobyerno. Para rin po itong pandemya na sumisira sa ating normal na pamumuhay (President Duterte is already exasperated because of corruption. It is like pandemic that breaks the normal life),” he said.
He said Duterte wants to leave a legacy that he fought corruption in government.
Go said the President enjoys high approval ratings “because Filipinos see the sincerity and seriousness of his leadership to improve public service delivery by putting an end to corruption, criminality and illegal drugs.”
“Kung paano tayo magbabayanihan ngayon para labanan ang pandemya, magkaisa rin dapat tayo para puksain ang sakit na korapsyon sa ating sistema (If we work united in fighting the pandemic, we should also do the same to eliminate corruption our system),” he said.
The expanded task force is mandated to investigate all issues of corruption in agencies, prosecute and file charges, conduct lifestyle checks, audit funds, recommend suspensions and put in jail those found guilty of corrupt practices. (PNA)