As a practical step to prevent corruption and curtail the parking of funds among district officials, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday said contractors of public projects should be required to submit photographs of their construction at certain levels of completion.
“For me, like a practical solution lang, kailangan dapat lahat ng contractor ng DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) mag-submit ng litrato n’ung project zero percent, 50 percent,100 percent,” Cayetano said in a media interview on September 15, 2022.
The interview came a day after Cayetano exposed what he called the “expanded fund parking scheme” during a manifestation on September 14, 2022 during the Senate briefing of the proposed national budget by the Development Budget Coordination Committee (DBCC).
He also urged the DBCC to look into the possible existence of a syndicate behind the illegal realignment of billions of pesos in funds in the budget of the DPWH, noting that then-DPWH Secretary and now Senator Mark Villar had made it a policy that a congressional district’s budget should more or less be at the same amount so that ongoing projects and continuing programs are sustained.
In Thursday’s media interview, Cayetano revealed that some corrupt officials have turned their practices to rural development projects that are too far from the public eye to be monitored, such as flood control, dredging, and asphalt road constructions.
“N’ung araw kasi hindi naman nilalagyan ng malaking pera y’ung mga liblib ‘di ba? Eh ngayon dahil may rural development tayo, napansin ko any project na hindi mo nakikita, halimbawa flood control nasa ilalim ‘yan o kaya any project na malayo y’ung lugar walang internet, walang media, mas y’un po ang pinagkakakitaan,” he said.
“Y’un y’ung mga favorite na hindi nababantayan so we have to have a practical way na bantayan,” he continued.
Cayetano said the practice is part of a bigger scheme dubbed “parking of funds” where some members of Congress with favored contractors make deals with other members. Over the years, the practice has become more elaborate, he said.
“Maraming nagsusumbong sa akin lately na y’ung budget ng kanilang lugar ng distrito ay na-cut by between 25 to almost 90 percent. Ibig sabihin ang P10 billion naging P1 billion, ang P5 billion naging P1 billion, P2 billion naging P1.5 billion,” he said.
“Pero may lumalapit sa kanila, ‘Pare ibabalik namin ang project pero kami ang gagawa,’ o kaya, ‘Pare ibabalik namin y’ung pondo pero kami magsasabi kung anong project,’” he said.
The Senator said the government must take practical steps to prevent them from happening regardless if they are isolated or just rumors from members of Congress holding a grudge because they had received a lower budget.
He stressed that while exposing such practices may alarm the guilty and force them to hide their activities, prevention should be the priority.
“Kung hinintay kong matuloy at saka upakan, may mahuhuli tayo pero nabulsa na y’ung pera. So ngayon, ginawa natin nang maaga, kumbaga binulabog natin,” he said.
“Ang kailangan natin, mapigilan sa umpisa pa lang. Ipakita natin sa kanila that crime does not pay,” he added.
Cayetano said he hopes DPWH Secretary Manuel Bonoan would look into the issue.
“Bawat bagong administrasyon talaga may nagte-testing eh. Kaya nga napakaimportante na ngayon na umpisa pa lang ng administrasyon, tulungan natin ang administrasyon na wala tayong mapapalusot na schemes, scam, o attempt,” he said.