The Philippine Star

Villar vows to run DPWH with integrity, competence

- By PAOLO ROMERO – With Edith Regalado

Incoming public works secretary Mark Villar vowed yesterday to run the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) with integrity and competence, even as he downplayed criticism about possible conflict of interest that may arise when he assumes his post.

Villar, who won his third term as representa­tive of the lone congressio­nal district of Las Piñas, was named last week by incoming president Rodrigo Duterte to head the DPWH.

His appointmen­t was met with criticisms, as his father – former Senate president Manny Villar – is a real estate magnate.

Meanwhile, incoming energy secretary Alfonso Cusi vowed to provide reliable, steady and affordable power supply in the next six years of the Duterte administra­tion.

Cusi, former general manager of the Manila Internatio­nal Airport Authority, was chosen by Duterte to head the energy department amid the problemati­c power supply plaguing the country, particular­ly in Mindanao.

Mindanao, a largely hydroelect­ric power-dependent island, has been suffering from insufficie­nt power supply causing rotational blackouts.

Power interrupti­on of up to six to eight hours have been affecting the region due to low water levels in the Pulangi River in Bukidnon and Lake Lanao in Marawi, two of the island’s main sources of hydroelect­ric power.

Villar was former president of Crown Asia Corp., one of the family-owned real estate firms.

“Accepting the DPWH portfolio represents a huge sacrifice for my family,” Villar said, adding he takes the criticisms in stride and as a challenge to show them the value of hard work, honesty and perseveran­ce that his parents instilled in him and his siblings.

He said Vista Land had expressed interest in participat­ing in DPWH public biddings for several projects, including those under the Public-Private Partnershi­p program.

Cusi, who also served as chief of the Philippine Ports Authority and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippine­s under the Arroyo administra­tion, is reportedly the vice president of the Partido ng Demokratik­ong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), Duterte’s main political party.

He said he would do his best to help the Duterte administra­tion achieve electrific­ation for the entire country.

“I will strive to help ensure reliable, steady and affordable power supply and work toward greater energy self-sufficienc­y in the next six years,” Cusi said.

Villar said the DPWH may be the largest source of bigticket contracts among agencies in the executive branch, but it is also perceived to be among the most corrupt.

He is aware that at 37, he could be not only the youngest member of the Duterte Cabinet, but also the most scrutinize­d official.

He said appointing incumbent lawmakers to the Cabinet is nothing new. The late President Corazon Aquino appointed the late Vice President Teofisto Guingona as her executive secretary.

Former presidents Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as well as President Aquino had made similar appointmen­ts.

Villar was chairman of the committee on trade and industry and vice chairman of the committees on overseas workers affairs, science and technology, and labor and employment in Congress.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics, Political Science and Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvan­ia and obtained his master’s degree in Business Administra­tion from the University of Chicago Booth School.

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