Duterte trains guns on delayed road projects, erring contractors

DAVAO CITY—President Duterte ordered the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to start canceling all road projects that have been delayed or he would hold its secretary “answerable.”

He also urged the public to file cases against contractors for any mishap in the unfinished road projects and assured complainants he would back them up in the court.

“If that [road] project fails, I will hold you, secretary of the DPWH, answerable,” the Commander in Chief said. “If there is highway there [that] has [a] problem, and if the delay, or slippage as we call it, is about 20 percent, I will cancel the contract.”

Duterte said he would not like infrastructure projects, including road construction, to end up tainted with corruption.

“I am making this policy statement now because I have not seen any road in the Philippines that was finished on time but was always tainted with graft and corruption,” he said. “We will never progress; we will never develop.”

The President added it would always be a problem with how to protect and ensure proper use of the people’s money on projects.

“Every program of the government ends up in investigation. Look at  the [Department of] Health,” he said, referring to the controversial anti-dengue vaccine that was blamed for the continuing deaths of children months after the vaccine was injected.

The President added beginning on Saturday, he would check road projects at random.

“I call on the attention of Secretary Mark Villar, that if there is any slippage of any work of any kind of a national road project, if I see anything beginning tomorrow [Saturday], I invite you all to see me in Malacañang.”

The President said it angered him to see roads not being repaired or maintained when these were being used by everyone every day.

“Many have fallen, many have died on the road projects,” he added. “Make it a criminal issue. If you fell or bumped in the unlighted, uncovered roads, you sue the government.”

Duterte said he believes the complainant would likely win the case.

“You sue the government and I will sue the supervisor and I will ask the Secretary to explain to me why it happened.”

Stepping down

ALSO on Friday, Duterte urged Congress to make him “resign or step down” as President prior to a referendum that would seek the adaption of a federal Constitution.

“Tonight [Friday], I will make a proposal: Make my term co-terminus with the beginning of the draft Constitution,” he said. “Make me stop being President during the transition. The constitutional committee chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Reynato Puno can make this correction and I may suggest and I would like Congress to approve it.”

Duterte also recommended that a President be elected “before you make the transition, from unitary to federal.”

“I would be willing to accept that proposal [and] galing sa akin iyan [it came from me].”

“I urge Congress, the [Constitutional Committee], to make the changes. Make me President only next year, 2019, and I will accept it, if that will satisfy everybody,” he added. “I really want to insert these changes. I have done many changes in the government but corruption remains to be a problem.”

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Manuel Cayon has written about Mindanao for several national newspapers for more than two decades, the most part of it on conflict-reporting, and on the political, insurgency and civil rights front. He also scribbles on the religious and human rights issues for the Thailand-based Catholic news agency as well as he strings for several wire agencies. His stint with then TODAY newspaper started his business reporting obtaining in Mindanao, continuing to this day with BusinessMirror. He received citations and awards, including two Biotechnology awards for reporting. He was a fellow of the US International Visitors’ Program Leadership in 2007 on conflict resolution and alternative dispute resolution. He attended college at the Mindanao State University and the Ateneo de Davao University

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