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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:03 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
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Lascañas: Duterte paid me using Davao City’s 'ghost' employees ... -employees

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:06 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
AMLC's bank records on Duterte show P1-B flow of money – Ombudsman

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Bank transactions of President Rodrigo Duterte and his family through the years amount to a total of more than P1 billion, said the Office of the Ombudsman as it continues its investigation into the complaint of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV against the President.

Trillanes filed a plunder complaint against Duterte in May 2016, alleging that there is P2.4 billion worth of deposits in Duterte's account and that funds could be coming from a possible scheme of hiring ghost employees in Davao City.

Overall Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang confirmed that the Deputy Ombudsman for Mindanao, which is handling the complaint that covers the time when Duterte was still Davao City mayor, had requested their office to help validate with the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) the list of bank transactions in Trillanes' documents.

The Office of the Ombudsman had asked the AMLC in August to do a bank inquiry and submit its final report on the alleged Duterte accounts. The Ombudsman now has a copy of bank records from the AMLC which, according to Carandang, "more or less" look like the documents submitted by Trillanes.

The documents they got from the AMLC also contain "entries, presentations, sources, transaction dates, amounts, and family members' names." Trillanes had submitted records – some dating all the way to 2004 – of Duterte, his common-law wife Cielito "Honeylet" Avanceña, ex-wife Elizabeth Zimmerman, and his 4 children.

These same bank records were requested from the AMLC by Trillanes himself but he was denied access in April. Trillanes however has his own copies of supposed bank transactions which he attached to the complaint he filed before the Ombudsman.

Whether or not there is something irregular or anomalous in the bank records is not established at this point. The AMLC has to proceed with its own investigation and make a report of its findings. (READ: Duterte orders AMLC to show his net worth)

In a statement on Thursday, September 28, the AMLC said that they had indeed not provided the Office of the Ombudsman “any report as a consequence of any investigation of subject accounts for any purpose.”

The AMLC reiterated they are not the source of Trillanes’ records.

“Meanwhile, we cannot make further comments considering the confidential nature of the matter,” the AMLC said.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has already said she has inhibited from all Duterte-related complaints before her office. She is related to Duterte by marriage ties – her brother, lawyer Lucas Carpio Jr, is the father of Manases Carpio, the husband of Duterte's daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Earlier, Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano attached to his impeachment complaint against Duterte copies of alleged bank transactions, which, according to Alejano, were the same as those of Trillanes. His impeachment complaint was already junked by the House committee on justice in May.

"This development has debunked claims that my allegations were mere hearsay. I firmly believe that Duterte has billions in his bank accounts and I feel vindicated by this admission," Alejano said in a statement.

The Ombudsman is proceeding with its probe, even as the AMLC continues with its own investigation. Carandang has said the two offices are sharing information and that while the Ombudsman tries to establish corruption, the AMLC will try to establish money laundering.

Duterte's wealth

Speaking at the 120th anniversary celebration of the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Tuesday evening, September 26, Duterte said he encourages everybody to probe into his wealth.

"Kung may makaturo lang na totoo, na meron akong deposit na kahit $1 diyan sa Hong Kong, I will step down as President of the Republic. I live by the values na nakuha ko sa tatay ko pati sa nanay ko," Duterte said.

(If somebody can prove that I have a deposit of even $1 in Hong Kong, I will step down as President of the Republic. I live by the values that I got from my father and mother.)

Malacañang said on Wednesday, September 27, that the President has nothing to hide. (READ: AMLC confirms receipt of Trillanes' bank secrecy waivers)

"The President respects the internal processes of the Ombudsman as an independent body, and trusts its impartiality in the conduct of its fact-finding duty," said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella.

Duterte declared a net worth of P27.4 million in his 2016 Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth (SALN). The President has P18.4 million cash on hand/bank.

Duterte also declared 9 real properties – 7 lots all in Davao City and two houses and lots, also all in Davao City. Duterte also declared a Volkswagen sedan and a Toyota RAV4 as well as P3 million worth of real estate properties under the name of his daughter Veronica.

Veronica's properties were "purchased through the exclusive funds of the mother," Duterte's partner Honeylet said. (READ: Duterte refuses to sign bank secrecy waiver)

What happens next?

Under the Ombudsman's rules of procedure, that they are conducting a fact-finding investigation already means Trillanes' complaint was evaluated to be worthy to reach that point.

A complaint can be "dismissed outright for want of palpable merit."

Whether the AMLC's report is a prerequisite to proceed to preliminary investigation is still unclear.

In the pork barrel scam cases for example, the Ombudsman prosecutors' biggest weapon was a report from the AMLC which made findings of possible corruption. In former senator Bong Revilla's case, the AMLC found that deposits to his bank account match amounts and dates as recorded by witness Benhur Luy in his ledger when he supposedly delivered kickbacks.

In January this year, Julia Bacay-Abad resigned as AMLC head, following Duterte's tirades against the agency's officials. Just this September, Mel Georgie Racela was appointed new executive director of the AMLC by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Monetary Board. Racela is an alumnus of the San Beda College of Law. (READ: FAST FACTS: The Anti-Money Laundering Council)

In the absence of an AMLC report, can Duterte still be investigated? That's for the Ombudsman to decide when it proceeds with an investigation based on SALNs, as done in the past.

In 2012, the late former chief justice Renato Corona was impeached for not disclosing in his SALN peso and dollar bank accounts. The same track could be followed in this case.

"Graft and corruption by having hidden wealth in his bank accounts was one of the bases of the impeachment complaint I filed against Duterte. The dismissal of my impeachment complaint against Duterte proved to be a missed opportunity," Alejano said. –

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:20 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
Corruption Is Still A Big Problem In The Philippines ... 58ec6c256a

The head of state is also corrupt 'eh, that is why.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:22 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
LIST: No to corruption? Duterte's controversial reappointees
By: Pia Ranada

Zero tolerance for corruption? Rappler finds that President Duterte has reappointed, promoted, or retained in a different capacity 16 government officials accused of corruption or misuse of public funds.

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has said, time and again, that even “one whiff of corruption” is enough for him to fire or sanction an official.

But a list compiled by Rappler shows presidential or government actions that appear to contradict this “zero tolerance” for corruption.

Sixteen officials who have been accused of corruption or abuse of public funds were reappointed, retained in another capacity, or promoted within the Duterte government.

Corruption allegations against some of these officials came from Duterte himself. In some cases, it was other government officials – such as lawmakers or the Office of the Ombudsman – who made the allegations, whether based on information from resource persons or an investigation.

It seems the President has had no problem overlooking these accusations, even if some of them were made by offices like the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, which he had trusted enough to put them in charge of his campaign against illegal drugs.

Does he simply not believe in the allegations made by other government entities or branches? This too appears to contradict another declaration of his – that an accusation does not even need to be true for him to fire someone.

“The first whiff – and even if it isn't true – we'll say goodbye,” he had said back in April 2017. (READ: When President Duterte goes on a firing spree)

All of the persons in the list have vehemently denied the corruption allegations. Some resigned from their posts after the accusations surfaced but were then reappointed by Duterte.

Here’s the list:

Jose Gabriel “Pompee” La Viña – His term as Social Security System commissioner was terminated by Duterte, yet months after, he was appointed tourism undersecretary and then agriculture undersecretary. Duterte himself claimed La Viña and former SSS chairman Amado Valdez “abused” public funds.

Melissa Aradanas – She was among the 5 Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) officials sacked by Duterte for supposed excessive travels and failure to meet regularly as a collegial body. She has been reappointed deputy commissioner for the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council. She also happens to be the cousin of Duterte’sl longtime partner, Honeylet Avanceña.

Joan Lagunda – Another of the sacked PCUP commissioners, she is now environment assistant secretary. She was appointed in April 2018.

Manuel Serra Jr – The 3rd sacked PCUP commissioner to be reappointed, Serra is now a member of the Philippine Coconut Authority’s governing board.

Nicanor Faeldon – The former Bureau of Customs chief has been appointed deputy administrator III of the Office of Civil Defense. This, despite being accused by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) of involvement in the P6.4-billion shabu smuggling controversy. The PDEA’s complaint was eventually dismissed by the Department of Justice but the Ombudsman recommended further investigation against him.

Vincent Maronilla – He resigned from his post as Manila International Container Port district collector after a Senate hearing where broker Mark Taguba named him as among the Customs officials who accepts "tara" or grease money. Senator Panfilo Lacson also included Maronilla's name in his "tara" list – what he claimed to be a carefully vetted and cross-matched list of names of officials who accept bribes from “players”. Maronilla was also among those accused by PDEA of conspiring to import illegal drugs and protecting drug traffickers in a complaint filed with the Department of Justice. Despite these, Duterte appointed him assistant commissioner at the BOC.

Milo Maestrecampo – Maestrecampo resigned as Bureau of Customs Import Assessment Services Director after he, too, was accused of accepting bribes and conspiring with drug traffickers. He was the subject of the same PDEA complaint against Maronilla and Faeldon. He, too, was named by broker Taguba as a Customs official accepting bribes. Duterte has appointed him assistant director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, an agency under the Department of Transportation (DOTr).

Gerardo Gambala – He resigned as Customs deputy commissioner and was appointed director of the DOTr’s Office of Transportation Security. He was included in Senator Lacson's list of supposedly corrupt Customs officials.

Teddy Raval – Appointed director of the Enforcement and Security Service of the Bureau of Customs during the previous administration, Raval figured in Lacson’s list of supposedly dirty Customs officials. This didn’t stop Duterte from reappointing him as a Customs deputy commissioner.

Ariel Nepomuceno – Nepomuceno had also been deputy commissioner for enforcement during the Aquino administration but he also resigned after the congressional hearings on the P6.4-billion smuggled shabu. He, too, was on Lacson’s list. Duterte reappointed him Customs deputy commissioner.

Celestina de la Serna – Duterte fired her from her post as Philippine Health Insurance Corporation officer-in-charge due to her pricey and unnecessary hotel stays and excessive travel expenses. It was also under her watch when PhilHealth suffered a P9-billion net income loss.Yet Duterte decided to retain her in PhilHealth’s board of directors.

Military and police personnel:

(We are including them here as Duterte is the commander-in-chief of the country's security forces and because he had warned that all personnel abusing their authority would face consequences.)

Roberto Fajardo – Fajardo was the police general supervising Caloocan cops as Northern Police District chief during the killing of teenager Kian delos Santos. He infamously remarked that Delos Santos was being made to look more innocent than he actually was because of politics. He was suspended to prevent him from influencing the probe on the teen’s death. Duterte had also vowed that police responsible for Delos Santos’ death would go to jail. But almost a year later, in June this year, Fajardo was appointed chief of the PNP’s Highway Patrol Group.

Marvin Marcos – He was the chief of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 8 when it tried to serve a search warrant on Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr inside his jail cell in Baybay City, Leyte. But the raid led to Espinosa’s death. The police involved claimed they opened fire because Espinosa “fought back.” But the National Bureau of Investigation concluded it was a rubout. Marcos and his men were relieved from their posts pending investigation and were sued for murder. Later on, the case was downgraded to homicide. Administratively, Marcos and his men faced suspension, yet Duterte himself publicly ordered Marcos’ reinstatement, claiming he wasn’t part of the raiding team anyway. Marcos told a Senate panel in November that he was outside the Leyte cell when the search warrant was served.

Chito Bersaluna – He was chief of the Caloocan police that conducted the city-wide raid that led to the killing of Kian delos Santos. He was suspended so as not to influence the probe, but almost a year after was named chief of the PNP’s Bulacan Provincial Police Office. He had also admitted in a Senate hearing that Caloocan police under him “confirmed" Delos Santos’ drug involvement through social media, aside from evidence obtained after the killing.

Athelo Ybañez – He was promoted from commodore to Rear Admiral by Duterte despite being a subject of an ongoing investigation by the Office of the Ombudsman over P27 million worth of cash advances which were found to have been disbursed irregularly.

Teotimo Borja Jr – He, too, is a subject in the Office of the Ombudsman’s investigation into the misuse of over P27 million of public funds. He was promoted from the rank of captain to Commodore.


PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 9:53 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
Duterte: No deal yet on Marcos wealth ... cos-wealth

Hindi pa magkasundo sa porsyento. Alams na


PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:02 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
Bongbong denies compromise deal over Marcos wealth ... cos-wealth

Bongbong and Imee's motto: 'Panibagong Pagnanakaw sa Hugpong ng Panggagago'.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:03 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
Imee can be a 'great' senator, says Bongbong ... s-bongbong

Bro-Sis tandem on big time corruption!

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:17 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
Duterte: If I were Marcoses, I'd return wealth for immunity ... h-immunity

That's it, you hear something straight from the horse's mouth!

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:19 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
‘Is Duterte the Marcos spokesman?’ – lawmakers ... statements

Not just spokesman but enabler.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:23 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
Duterte: Philippines and China partners in drug, corruption war ... ption-war/

Ay, kaya naman pala EPIC FAIL 'eh. Alams na

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:29 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
Duterte regime had already gained global notoriety for corruption ... orruption/

Ayun. Sikat na sikat na pala si lolo globally 'eh.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:34 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
'Build, Build, Build' hits chokepoint
DPWH under Duterte: Corruption, politics, slippage mar many projects

by Malou Mangahas and Karol Ilagan

IN THE TWO years since he assumed office and promised to usher in a “golden age of infrastructure”, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has put money where his mouth is. Boasting that, by his term’s end in 2022, multiple roads, bridges, ports, and airports will rise across the nation, his “Build, Build, Build” program now has a potential bill upwards of PhP8.4 trillion that will come from public funds, private monies, and loans.

By a Cabinet secretary’s account, Duterte is simply unstoppable when he wants to get something done. First christened “Dutertenomics,” the mammoth Build, Build, Build program currently has tens of thousands of civil-works contracts bidded out, apart from multiple multibillion-peso big infrastructure projects partly funded by official development assistance (ODA) or loans from China, Japan, and other bilateral partners.

This dwarfs the infrastructure frenzy under one of Duterte’s predecessors, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is said to have had an “edifice complex” so bad that roads and bridges were being built at a speed that would make it possible for her to inaugurate one or two in her visits to the provinces week on week.

As a result, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) during the Arroyo administration bidded out 27,535 civil-works contracts in eight years, from 2000 to 2008. But this has turned out to be just 60 percent of the Duterte administration’s total projects bidded out, which come to 44,000 in all, according to DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar, in a mere 24 months, from July 2016 to July 2018.

If Villar’s number is correct, that total redounds to an average of 1,833 DPWH projects awarded monthly, or 60 projects daily. Apart from roads and bridges, DPWH is also building schools, flood-control systems, and water systems, while other agencies are constructing irrigation, power systems, as well as ports, airports, and other civil-works projects.

Like Arroyo – now the Speaker of the House — Duterte has proclaimed his massive infrastructure program as an anti-poverty antidote. He wants, he has said, to build infrastructure and bolster industries so he can create jobs and curb poverty by nearly half, or from 21.6 percent in 2015 to between 13 and 15 percent in 2022.

In addition, like Arroyo and all presidents before him, Duterte has promised that his projects and administration would be rid of corruption. “I assure you,” he had said at the launch of his socio-economic agenda in 2016, “this will be a clean government.”

Regressive results

But contractors, current and former officials, procurement experts, and affected citizens interviewed by PCIJ have separately offered guarded to cynical prognoses about Build, Build, Build. Indeed, most say that the program could be falling or crashing down due to its own massive weight, and is now yielding not progressive but regressive results after two years of Duterte.

Not surprisingly, they also say that corruption remains a formidable feature in many of the projects that are supposedly aimed to improve the lives of people.

“Year 1 marks the launch, the testing period, for Build, Build, Build,” said an executive of a big contractor. “Year 2 is when it unravels and encounters problems. By Year 3, the chokepoint, it would be difficult to save it.” Next year, 2019, the program and the Duterte administration will turn three.

But DPWH Secretary Villar offers a rosy picture still. “I wouldn’t say that it’s hitting any snags,” he told PCIJ in an interview. “It’s not without any challenges. It’s not without the challenge, but my statement about the Build, Build, Build is we’re on track and it is improving and the support is there.”

DPWH, the government’s engineering and construction arm and an implementor of major projects under Build, Build, Build, receives the biggest infrastructure allotment as well as the second biggest budget annually among the departments. This year, DPWH was allotted PhP637.9 billion, reflecting a 40-percent increase from its PhP454.7 billion budget in 2017.

But while Villar seems unperturbed by “snags” in Build, Build, Build, observers and insiders alike say that these are significant enough to hinder the program’s progress.

For one, they affirm in separate interviews, some local, legislative, and public works officials colluding with favored but unqualified contractors are “syndicated” circles of corruption that continue to stalk many of the projects.

Greed and need

In fact, as early as February 2017, contractors had noted in meetings with public officials that “implementing agencies, especially in remote regions, continue to become victims of local government officials and in some isolated cases even national government officials who influence the award of projects to favored sub-par contractors.”

“There is a need,” the contractors had thus said, “to craft measures to insulate and isolate infrastructure projects from political intervention which has become syndicated.”

A senior official with expertise and insight into the problems meanwhile observed, “Greed is driving project contracting, the projects are falling below accomplishment targets, most projects are bloated.”

Apparently, the bigness of the projected bill of Build, Build, Build — about 5.4 percent in 2017 to 7.4 percent in 2022 of gross domestic product, or PhP8.4 trillion in all in five years (compared to the PhP2.4 trillion or so total infrastructure budget during the Aquino administration’s six years) — has also magnified multiple-fold the opportunities as well as the costs of corruption. And with the focus often on the money to be made, many projects have wound up suffering from poor planning and monitoring, and are awarded with unsettled right-of-way or in some areas, security, issues, among others.

Project identification, evaluation and approval, as well as the competitive public bidding, notice of award, and local government permits and clearances, have also run into delays until mid-year, or by the onset the rainy season, thus impeding actual construction work, or even the deployment of workers, equipment, and aggregates.

In addition, there is the fact that there are just too many projects to do, prompting some big and small contractors to enter into subcontracting arrangements. Several small contractors, in violation to procurement rules, have even resorted to borrowing the licenses of some big contractors, in exchange for flat two- to five-percent fees out of the total project cost.

Bad and corrupt projects, according to various sources, result when agencies fail to identify the right and needed projects; the procurement process is not competitive or is marred by collusive bidding and influence-pedding by politicians and contractors; project cost is not commensurate to desired project quality; and implementation of projects is not monitored and achieved within deadline.
PCIJ. Obscure firms bad huge deals

Back in harness

To be sure, corruption and inefficiency have long marred public-works contracts. In 2009, for instance, PCIJ reported that Arroyo’s rush to roll out projects resulted in obscure contractors bagging billion-peso worth of contracts even though there wasn’t enough proof that they were capable of doing quality work.

Eight years later, with Duterte at the helm, contractors with a history of blacklisting, registration revocation, graft cases, poor performance, and political ties have again emerged as the top firms moving earth to open roads to traffic.

In 2010, DPWH under then Secretary Rogelio Singson launched reforms to improve the integrity of its procurement process, starting with standard unit cost analysis per project before going to public bidding across the board. Bidding for national projects became more transparent, competitive, and less vulnerable to corruption. Yet contracts awarded by local engineering districts, and those funded by the Priority Development Assistance Fund or “pork barrel” funds at the time were not spared by some politicians who, according to reports, still collected payoffs.

This kind of corruption in road projects has lingered under the Duterte government. In a 2017 dialogue conducted by the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines (CIAP), “politics and political intervention” still emerged as a key concern among contractors. The situation, according to one former government official, even “discourages good and honest contractors from doing projects in certain regions where contractors are designated as project takers.”

CIAP initiated the dialogue to determine the capacity and readiness of the construction industry to take on projects under the Build, Build, Build program. Representatives of the DPWH, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Education (DepEd), Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB), and contractors’ associations attended the dialogue.
Daang Matuwid, payoffs to pols in contracts

Tong-pats, taripa

Two senior government officials and at least four contractors separately interviewed by PCIJ on condition of anonymity said that for the most part, the system has only evolved and adapted to policies of DPWH officials through the years. One contractor said, however, that in many areas where the same politicians have ruled for long periods, backroom deals between and among elected officials, firms, and DPWH engineers have not changed, making them “the biggest mafia” in the country.

Under Arroyo, when profiting from infrastructure projects were more or less an open secret, kickbacks came in the form of “tong-pats” (patong) or an amount added to the actual cost of the project to accommodate the commission rate of local politicians. According to contractors, the rate at the time was about 12 percent of the contract price.

This figure apparently had to go down during the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III, when then DPWH Secretary Singson initiated across-the-board cuts on project costs to minimize public funds being pocketed by officials. But then “tong-pats” merely morphed into “taripa (tariff),” or portions of project costs already earmarked for kickbacks.

One contractor recalled how he had to negotiate with a congressman and a local DPWH official to lower their rates to eight percent and two percent, respectively, and leave the contractor with a profit of at least another eight percent. In all, the three-part sharing scheme meant that 18 percent of project cost had already been set aside for taripa and profit, even before groundbreaking rites for the project.

Another contractor meanwhile confirmed that politicians also get “assistance” from contracting firms for their election or reelection campaigns.
Project covered by a joint-venture agreement between Three W Builders and CLTG Builders. Completion deadline was December 2017 yet. PCIJ Photo by John Reiner Antiquerra

Project covered by a joint-venture agreement between Three W Builders and CLTG Builders. Completion deadline was December 2017 yet. PCIJ Photo by John Reiner Antiquerra

“Joint-ventures” on the rise

Behind closed doors and without paper trail, these deals unfold outside the purview of regulatory bodies, and beyond the formal scope of the procurement rules. Of late, legal loopholes have also allowed contractors and taripa-seekers to still corner contracts and commissions, resulting in fly-by-night firms winning some of the biggest projects.

In the last two years, an increasing number of “joint-venture” agreements have been sealed, providing a supposedly legal way-out for smaller contractors to win huge contracts — which they would not have qualified to get on their own — by “using” the license of bigger, much more established contractors.

On paper, both small and big contractors are expected to implement the project. In reality, on ground, only the small contractor gets the project and implements it. According to those privy to such arrangements, a “royalty fee” worth two to five percent of the total contract amount is paid to the big contractor for “lending” its license.

Such set-ups are most obvious in “joint ventures” where the “authorized managing office” is the representative of the small firm and not of the big firm, said one contractor. The source added that because the small contractor is not really capable of completing the JV project, the project gets delayed.

There are also cases when a public official is himself the contractor. Two contractors separately told PCIJ of a governor who supposedly gets all infrastructure projects in his bailiwick by making deals with Triple-A contractors, which, through their licenses and qualifications, bid and win projects for the governor’s firm. But the projects actually go to the governor’s construction firm while the Triple-A contractors each get a “fee” in the deal.

Projects lost, found

There was no governor involved in a project PCIJ stumbled upon in a field visit to Davao City last June. But it did find a company owned by Davao businessman and presidential assistant for sports Glenn Escandor working on a project that had been won by another firm.

Among other things, PCIJ had gone on field to take a look at a project that was supposed to be at 0.22 percent accomplishment rate as of April 30, 2018: the PhP24.8-million rehabilitation/reconstruction of the Mabuhay-Pañalum-Paquibato Road with slips slope and landslide” in Davao City. The project, which on paper was to be implemented by Las Piñas-based Three W Builders Inc., was supposed to have started on May 4, 2017 and completed by Oct. 21, 2017. Three W is a Triple-A contractor.

PCIJ failed to locate the project but instead found another Three W project: the PhP44.8-million “construction of slope protection along Lasang River, Paquibato Proper Section, Davao City.” The actual work for the project, however, was being done by Genesis 88 Construction Inc., an A-licensed construction firm owned by Escandor. The project engineer, the payroll request form, and the backhoe at the project site were all from Genesis 88. No Three W Builders employee was on site.
Backhoe and equpment of Genesis 88 Construction owned by Presidential Assistant for Sports Glenn Escandor at the site of a project supposed to be implemented by Three W Builders. DPWH has no record of Genesis 88 being awarded this project. PCIJ Photo by John Reiner Antiquerra

Backhoe and equpment of Genesis 88 Construction owned by Presidential Assistant for Sports Glenn Escandor at the site of a project supposed to be implemented by Three W Builders. DPWH has no record of Genesis 88 being awarded this project. PCIJ Photo by John Reiner Antiquerra

As of this writing, Genesis 88 and Three W Builders have yet to respond to letters sent by PCIJ despite multiple follow-up calls made to each of their staff personnel.

Procurement rules allow subcontracting under certain circumstances only. A contractor like Three W may subcontract portions of the works, provided that it will undertake, using its own resources, not less than 50 percent of the contract works in terms of cost. At the same time, subcontractor is supposed to subcontract not more than half of the work. Moreover, it should be a PCAB-licensed contractor with Net Financing Contracting Capacity (NFCC), which is computed based on its net worth as submitted to the Bureau of Internal Revenue and SEC.

Prior approval of the head of the procuring entity — in this case the Davao City 1st District Engineering Office — is required as well before subcontracting is allowed. But District Engineer Wilfredo Aguilar and Assistant District Engineer Milagros de los Reyes of Davao City said that no application for subcontracting has been processed by their office. They said, though, that it is possible that Genesis 88 may have rented its equipment to Three W or Three W hired Genesis 88’s employees for the project.

Dismal disbursement rate

For sure, illegal or irregular deals could have only helped lead to the dismal findings regarding DPWH that the Commission on Audit (COA) recorded in its 2017 Annual Audit Report of the agency.

For instance, government auditors found, of the total PhP610.9 billion obligated by DPWH, only PhP222.66 billion or 34 percent was disbursed because of delayed and non-implementation of infrastructure projects. According to the report, DPWH was not able to implement:

• 2,334 projects worth PhP62.59 billion, which were not completed within the contract period;
• 135 suspended projects costing PhP6.07 billion;
• 15 terminated projects amounting to PhP2.1 billion; and
• 815 unimplemented projects worth PhP2.58 billion.

On the same day that news broke about the COA report last July, President Duterte in a speech in Davao City warned that he would hold DPWH Secretary Villar accountable for delayed and failed projects.

Said the President: “I would like to call the attention of the secretaries, especially Secretary Villar, that if there is any slippage of any work of any kind by the national government. If you delay or if I see tomorrow, beginning tomorrow, and you are all invited to see me in Malacañang.”

“Kaya sinasabi ko sa inyo, I’m exacting now something of like this. ‘Yang project mo pagka pumalpak (If your project fails), I will hold the Secretary responsible,” Duterte added.

Four days later, on July 11, Villar clarified details raised in the COA report and announced that DPWH had started investigation proceedings “for suspension of 43 contractors” behind the 400 projects with slippage or facing implementation delays.

Interviewed by PCIJ last Aug. 19, Villar acknowledged that there is a problem but qualified the findings in DPWH’s context. He said that the obligation amount used by COA includes multi-year projects, which was reportedly why disbursement was pegged at 34 percent. By DPWH calculations, he said, the agency’s disbursement rate stands at 60 percent for “all funds, all legal bases.”

DPWH’s data

Data provided by DPWH show that of its 2017 total PhP672.97-billion amount obligated, PhP406.48 billion had been disbursed. (According to a former DPWH insider, however, the amount the agency records as having disbursed usually “includes carryover projects from previous years, since disbursement by agency is cumulative.”)

Villar also said that the aggregate number of infrastructure projects is 44,000, making the percentage of the delayed projects — 2,334 by COA’s report — only five percent of the total. DPWH spokesperson Anna Mae Lamentillo meanwhile said that the portion of suspended projects over the total number is at three percent, making the statistics actually “good.” But DPWH did not confirm if the aggregate number refers to 2017 projects only, which was COA’s reference.

COA also found that DPWH did not impose liquidated damages on the contractors or rescind or terminate any of the 120 delayed projects that have already incurred negative slippage of 15 percent. These delayed projects are worth PhP6.67 billion.

The 2016 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9184 provides that a procuring entity such as DPWH “may rescind the contract, forfeit the contractor’s performance security and takeover the prosecution of the project or award the same to a qualified contractor through negotiated contract” in case that the delay in the completion of the work exceeds 10 percent of the specified contract time plus any time extension granted.

Lamentillo, though, said that rescinding a contract is optional, highlighting the law’s use of the modal verb “may.” She said that DPWH does not automatically terminate a project because sometimes it becomes more expensive for the government to re-award it. Bidding alone, she said, usually takes about three months. If the contractor is able to comply with its catch-up plan, said Lamentillo, DPWH allows the firm to continue and complete the project.

Multiple reasons

COA allowed that the delay, termination, and non-implementation of the DPWH projects were caused by various factors, ranging from the agency’s responsibilities such as right-of-way acquisition, inadequate planning, monitoring, and supervision of projects, and lack of cooperation with local government units to address contractors’ concerns such as having insufficient workforce and equipment. Late issuance of permits, peace and order issues, and unfavorable weather conditions were likewise among the reasons cited for project delays, said COA.

But it noted that consultants and the DPWH management failed to consider these during the preliminary engineering study on the viability of the projects. Moreover, COA said, these same issues have been noted in the prior years’ audit reports.

“Had management considered the right-of-way and project site issues during the preliminary engineering study on the technical viability of the project, the same could have been resolved prior to project implementation or the proposed projects could have been excluded in the final list of projects for bidding,” COA said.

“These problems should have been disclosed during the planning stage and properly discussed during the BAC (Bids and Awards Committee) meetings when deliberations for projects implementation were conducted with Management officials to arrive at decisions advantageous to the government,” it added. “Likewise, coordination with concerned government agencies and private companies should have been conducted early and regularly to address the permit issues and follow-up the release of permits.”
DPWH Road and Bridge Inventory

More hires, reforms

An ex-DPWH official said of COA’s comments on the right-of-way issue, though, “If DPWH does not take some risk and will only budget a project once the full right of way is completed, then many infra projects of government will never get started. Landowners delay actual turnover of land if they know that there is still no budget for the project.

In any case, PCIJ asked Villar how DPWH was going to address the problems pointed out by COA since more projects will have to be undertaken with the Build, Build, Build program. He replied in part by saying that DPWH is about to hire almost 4,000 additional project engineers and has organized for job fairs to help contractors find personnel.

“I’m not saying that it’s not difficult,” he also said. “It’s difficult and all of us are working 24/7 to solve these issues.”

The DPWH chief also cited technology as one solution to address issues of corruption and irregularities in civil-works contracts. He said that DPWH is promoting the use of applications and analytics to minimize discretion, and in turn, to minimize corruption.

For example, Villar said, having a satellite based geo-tagging system makes it difficult to cheat on the reporting of project status. He also said that being able to see constantly updated records from a central database has allowed DPWH for the first time to use analytics.

Analytics fan

Villar — the youngest to serve in the DPWH and by some contractors’ accounts the least prepared for the job — described himself as a firm believer of analytics. Any major company that handles huge volumes of work needs analytics, he said.

“That’s what we’re doing,” said Villar. “The more use of analytics, the more use of quantitative measurements. It minimizes discretion, therefore you minimize corruption.”

He disagreed with the view that technology cannot or may not capture cases of collusive bidding, lending of licenses, and illegal subcontracting that all happen behind closed doors. Technology could still capture these irregularities to a certain extent, he argued.

“These construction companies that supposedly ‘subcon’ (subcontract) — if they are held to be more accountable for their projects, if we’re better at monitoring — we can more or less see who the low-performing contractors are,” said Villar. “More or less, these are the ones who have low capability.”

DPWH uses an application called Infratrack, which is supposed to improve transparency and accountability in the monitoring of civil-works projects. It uses geotagging technology to help the agency monitor the progress of projects virtually. Through this application, Villar said, DPWH can more or less get a better picture of contractors who have taken large volumes of projects but don’t seem to have the necessary capability.

DPWH uses an application called InfraTrack, which is supposed to improve transparency and accountability in the monitoring of civil-works projects. It uses geotagging technology to help the agency monitor the progress of projects virtually.

Politicians’ picks?

According to Villar, DPWH has used the system to identify the 43 contractors currently facing suspension over delayed projects. One of the 43, R.C. Tagala Construction, which is now operating under the name Syndtite Construction Corporation, was recently blacklisted for one year beginning Aug. 16, 2018.

Asked to comment on allegations that politicians have been known to “place” their favored regional director or district engineer in their bailiwicks, Villar replied in part by saying that he also uses metrics in assessing the performance of DPWH district engineers.

According to Villar, people make recommendations to his office, but he always refers to his grading system, which is based on performance composed of disbursements, bid variance, and design and quality audits scores. District engineers are then ranked from one to 99. Those ranked at the bottom might be floated.

“I don’t approve these recommendations, I make a choice,” the secretary said. “People can recommend but ultimately, I make a choice. For operational decisions, if he’s (district engineer) underperforming, he goes.”

‘A careful politician’

Since Villar became public works secretary, at least 10 percent of district engineers have been floated. All of the district engineers in the Cordillera Administrative Region, for instance, have been replaced because, said Villar, they were performing poorly.

But contractors interviewed by PCIJ noted that Villar has been acting like a careful politician from a political family with vast business interests in real estate, retail, and water services. Commented one contractor: “He is careful not to offend political allies and friends.”

The secretary is the younger of two sons of real estate mogul and former Senate president Manuel Villar and re-electionist Sen. Cynthia Villar. The Villars lead the Nacionalista Party or NP. Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano ran for vice president under the NP banner in 2016. Meanwhile, Mark Villar is married to Emmeline Aglipay, until recently the DIWA party-list representative who was named Justice undersecretary last August. Mark Villar himself gave up his seat in Congress shortly after being appointed to head the DPWH in July 2016.

PCIJ asked Villar why his Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net Worth shows that he has zero investments in Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc., a multibillion-peso integrated property developer owned by his family, as well as whether he got the DPWH post as a return favor for the election campaign donation said to have been given by the Villars to Duterte.

Villar replied with a general comment. “I don’t involve myself,” he said. “If there’s anything that I feel would be any conflict, I wouldn’t do it myself. I don’t have any investments in anything.”

Debt of gratitude

The President himself, however, has been open about his fondness for the Villars.

In March 2017, Mark Villar’s father, former Senate President Manuel B. Villar, was part of Duterte’s business delegation to Thailand. Before a crowd of Filipinos, President Duterte heaped praise on Villar as “isa sa pinakamabait, pinakamabait na tao. Hindi marunong magmura ‘yan. Naging Speaker namin ‘yan. Ni minsan, ‘di ko nakikita – naging congressman ako panahon Speaker siya — wala akong narinig na mag-init ‘yung ulo (one of the nicest people I have met. He doesn’t curse, and not once — when I was a congressman, he was the Speaker — have I seen him blow his top).”

For the elder Villar, Duterte said, “Para sa akin, puwede ako magpakamatay sa kanya kasi mabait eh (I could die for him because he is nice.)”

More than just fondness, however, Duterte has acknowledged that he owes the Villars gratitude.

At a public event in October 2017, he said that Mark Villar’s mother, Sen. Cynthia A. Villar, helped him during the election campaign in 2016. News reports reported him as saying, “During the presidential debates, in between far and wide the debates, there was this intermission. Nakita mo wala akong advertisement. Walang pera eh. Buti na lang tumulong si Ma’am Cynthia. Tinulungan niya ako. I have to admit it, na tinulungan ako. (I had no advertisements, no money. It was good that Ma’am Cynthia helped me. She helped me. I have to admit it, she helped me.)”

In his campaign spending report to the Commission on Elections, Duterte did not name the Villars among his donors in the 2016 elections. PCIJ had reported that of the PhP371.36 million in campaign donations that Duterte raised, 89.28 percent or PhP334.8 million came from 13 multimillion-peso donors. One of them, Marcelino Mendoza, gave PhP14.5 million. A resident of the Villars’ bailiwick of Las Piñas City, Mendoza is listed as an incorporator, board member, and stockholder of the Villar family’s Vista Land conglomerate. — With additional reporting by Carolyn O. Arguillas and John Reiner Antiquerra, PCIJ, September 2018
PCIJ. Millionaires for Digong, dec 2016

Check out PCIJ’s reports on “Build, Build, Build hits chokepoint” ... -projects/

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:17 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
Philippine anti-graft official sacked for revealing Duterte corruption probe
By Manuel Mogato

Manila | The office of the Philippine president has sacked a deputy ombudsman for revealing information about an inquiry into alleged unexplained wealth of President Rodrigo Duterte, saying that his intent was to discredit him.

Arthur Carandang is liable for graft and betrayal of public trust for publicising evidence he had on the alleged undeclared wealth of Duterte and his family, according to a 10-page decision issued by executive secretary, Salvador Medialdea.

The investigation into Duterte by the Office of the Ombudsman, an independent agency, followed a complaint by a prominent senator that Duterte had amassed as much as 2.2 billion pesos ($41.5 million) when he was a city mayor. Duterte denies that.

[The sacking came after Duterte looked on while illegally imported luxury vehicles including Porsches and Lamborghinis were crushed in the country's anti-corruption drive.]

The investigation into Duterte, which was terminated in November last year, led to repeated angry outbursts by Duterte about the Ombudsman.

Carandang was sacked because of "guilty of manifest partiality" towards Senator Antonio Trillanes, a staunch critic of Duterte, with the intent to broadcast information "adverse to the president", according to Medialdea's decision.
'False and misleading'

Citing a report from the Anti-Money Laundering Council, Medialdea also said the figures Carandang presented were "false and misleading".

Carandang had no immediate comment about his dismissal.

Carandang joins a growing list of people that include politicians, activists, a judge, a nun and two United Nations rapporteurs who have taken on Duterte and found themselves investigated, sacked, detained or humiliated, often after being lambasted in public by the president.

Duterte's office had previously ordered Carandang suspended for 90 days, but then Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales refused to heed that, arguing the president had no jurisdiction.

Carandang's dismissal order was issued on Monday, just a few days after Morales retired and was replaced by a former judge appointed by Duterte.

Duterte's spokesman, Harry Roque, issued a statement confirming Carandang's dismissal and said that his case was given due consideration.

Reuters ... 802-h13g6b

PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:23 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
The Philippines can’t fight its meth battle until it wins the war on corruption
By: Joanna Fuertes-Knight

President Rodrigo Duterte has halted his crackdown on drugs to tackle crooked police – but the rot goes way beyond law enforcement

‘Duterte has been accused of rabble-rousing populism, having inflated drug use statistics in his speeches.’ Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte holds a compilation of pictures of people involved in drugs. Photograph: Lean Daval Jr/Reuters

“You are corrupt to the core,” the Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Duterte, said to his own police force after announcing he would be indefinitely halting his controversial war on drugs to tackle endemic corruption within the Philippine national police.

This is following the death of South-Korean businessman, Jee Ick-joo, who was left strangled in the grounds of Camp Crame, the police force’s headquarters, after a bungled kidnap and interrogation attempt by anti-drugs officers.

The breather this reprieve is offering is a choice time to look at just how bad the Philippines’ drug problem is, especially after Duterte has been accused of rabble-rousing populism, having inflated drug use statistics in his speeches, almost doubling the number of Filipino users from 1.8 to 3 million.

But to make sense of the Philippines’ new starring role in south-east Asia’s calamitous and violent war on drugs, you have to understand how the region became one of the largest consumers of methamphetamine in the first place.

Meth’s status as the overwhelming drug of choice in south-east Asia is thought to stem not from a need for recreational drugs and escapism, but rather as a result of poverty meeting the cultural weight of maintaining an “Asian” work ethic. In an analysis of meth users in Manila by the Philippines’ Dangerous Drugs Board, the lion’s share of users shown were young men, living in poverty and working long hours.

Rates of usage were startlingly high among bus and taxi drivers, no doubt struggling to stay awake in Manila’s purgatorial traffic. Speaking to Filipino users, though they get some respite from their reality with occasional bouts of euphoria, for the most part, meth (known locally as “shabu”) is just the pragmatic option: a cost-effective solution to having no food to eat but feeling the need to work until you drop.

The role geography plays is not one to be undermined either. China is the world’s largest manufacturer of methamphetamine’s main ingredient – pseudoephedrine – and south-east Asia has provided a convenient playground for formidable Chinese drug syndicates to set up shop with the raw materials.

While Mexico has the Sierra Madre mountains for cartels to disappear into, south-east Asia is a cluster of jungle land with miles of unguarded coastline, making it near impossible to track the passage of drugs for any meaningful amount of time. The authorities feel they’re chasing ghosts.

In the Philippines’ sprawling archipelago of 7,641 islands, when meth lab busts do happen, they are often large, well-oiled operations that prove the days of south-east Asia as just a transit point rather than a place of production are long gone.

However, of the tangle of issues that has had the region teetering on the edge of a drug epidemic for the last decade, the hangover of European colonisation may be the most powerful.

All of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) countries cling onto the two pillars of the colonial period: a fondness for rampant corruption and despotic laws that favour criminalisation over rehabilitation, both of which have kept the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime despairing. So while the Philippines has comparatively softer laws for major narcotic crimes compared with its neighbours, what it lacks in capital punishment it makes up for with almost awe-inspiring levels of drug-related corruption. And it is corruption that goes above and beyond sticky-fingered police officers, and into its own much murkier world of Filipino narco-politics.

Local news reports of politicians found to be directly funded by drug money are so frequent, widespread and often absurd it’s hard to know where to begin. One mayor, from Quezon, was convicted for using a local ambulance to transport 500kg of methamphetamine to Manila. And then there was the local official who stored meth in town halls and churches.

In 2015, an exasperated Ch Insp Roque Merdegia of the Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force, who headed up the worrying arrest of a suspected Sinaloa cartel member in Manila, said with no uncertainty that many of the elected officials going into the 2016 presidential elections would be doing so on drug-money dollar. Even the fervour with which so many of the Philippine police carried out extrajudicial killings is suspect. There is no doubt in my mind that the majority were not driven by a desire to crack down on drugs, but rather racing to silence those that might expose them or their politician pals as drug pushers themselves.

So while Duterte’s reprimanding of and promise to cleanse the country of crooked cops and officials will only add to his popularity among common Filipino people, I wonder if this is a fight he will stand by as firmly as his ferocious war on drugs. The deaths of more than 7,000 addicts and low-level dealers is one thing, but ruffling the feathers and incomes of the country’s most powerful? That’s an entirely different battle, and one Duterte should make sure he is squeaky clean for, because the most sinister thing about the Philippines’ drug problem is not wild addiction statistics, but that there could be proof that corruption is endemic.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 7:21 am 
Light Heavyweight

Joined: Mon Jul 17, 2017 4:57 pm
Posts: 1715
Philippines is the 99 least corrupt nation out of 175 countries! ... ption-rank

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