Against cor­rup­tion

Sun.Star Pampanga - - TOPSTORIES! -

JUST how of­ten do we hear of con­trac­tors, politi­cians and of­fi­cials of the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways con­spir­ing for pie shares in ev­ery ma­jor in­fras­truc­ture project? Open se­crets about wheeler deal­ers and quid pro quo deals. They’re tales as old as time, true as they can be, some­body bent the rules un­ex­pect­edly. Ad nau­seam.

Af­ter Pres­i­den­tial An­ti­Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion (PACC) Chair­man Dante Jimenez met with re­gional di­rec­tors in Cen­tral Visayas, he dis­closed to me­dia a list of the most cor­rupt gov­ern­ment agen­cies.

Al­most nat­u­rally, the DPWH topped the list, fol­lowed by the Govern­men­tOwned and Con­trolled Cor­po­ra­tions, the De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­ment and Nat­u­ral Re­sources and the De­part­ment of Fi­nance, un­der which are the Bureau of In­ter­nal Rev­enue and the Bureau of Cus­toms. Tied at fourth are the De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs, De­part­ment of Trans­porta­tion, De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture, and strangely the Na­tional Com­mis­sion for In­dige­nous Peop l e.

The list is based on the num­ber of com­plaints against the agen­cies in the pe­riod be­tween March 7, 2018 and Fe­bru­ary this year.

Jimenez said the PACC re­ceived 807 com­plaints, 760 of them were ver­i­fi­able. Twen­ty­nine com­plaints were en­dorsed to the Of­fice of the Om­buds­man, 28 were ap­proved by the com­mis­sion en banc.

Eight com­plaints were dropped for lack of ev­i­dence.

The list comes at a time when the DPWH is in the mid­dle of in­sti­tut­ing re­forms, par­tic­u­larly in anti-cor­rup­tion ef­forts, in the last three years. Pub­lic Works Sec­re­tary Mark Vil­lar had been push­ing for the use of tech­nol­ogy in mon­i­tor­ing the agency’s over 20,000 projects.

The DPWH had set up a geo-tag­ging soft­ware that al­lows quicker iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of ghost projects and in­ac­cu­rate re­port­ing. The pro­gram started in 2017, and is now in its fi­nal phase. To date, Vil­lar said, around 30 per­cent of the over 20,000 projects have been geo-tagged. The agency hopes for a hun­dred per­cent tag­ging be­fore the year ends.

The sys­tem, de­vel­oped through the World Bank’s help, al­lows ac­cess to real­time vis­ual images of the geo­graphic co­or­di­nates where projects are sup­pos­edly un­dert aken.

It is im­pos­si­ble to fake, said Vil­lar, since it uses real time pho­tos fed by the satel­lite. This al­lows a more ac­cu­rate mea­sure­ment of on­go­ing projects, their progress or the lack of it.

While at that, the pub­lic should take note that one of the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion’s top pri­or­i­ties is in­fras­truc­ture, tar­get­ing an ex­pen­di­ture of P8 tril­lion to P9 tril­lion from 2017 to 2022.

The PACC fig­ures on the ra­tio of com­plaints ver­sus the trickle of those that were promptly fol­lowed through doesn’t quite show a cit­i­zenry so im­pas­sioned

to ded­i­cate real ef­forts in fight­ing cor­rup­tion. Per­haps, it helps to ed­u­cate the pub­lic on how cor­rup­tion is car­ried out on each stage of gov­ern­ment trans­ac­tions, so they can take ini­tia­tives from there in train­ing more eyes to keep of­fi­cials on their toes.

“That’s why I’m telling you, let’s help each other. We’re all coun­try­men. It’s not true what they’re say­ing that there hasn’t been any change. There have been changes. But noth­ing will hap­pen if the pub­lic doesn’t com­plain. You need to re­port cor­rup­tion. If you’re afraid for your safety, we have wit­ness pro­tec­tion,” Jimenez said.— Sun­nex

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