THE House rules committee agreed to subpoena the top officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) to its continuing investigation of alleged irregularities in the budget practices of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
“The testimonies given under oath by those subpoenaed indicate a top-level conspiracy in the multi-billion peso flood control scam that may involve ranking officials of government,” House Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. said in a statement on Sunday.
He named DPWH Undersecretary for Planning and Public-Private Partnership Maria Catalina E. Cabral, Senior Undersecretary for Regional Operations in Luzon Rafael C. Yabut and Project Director of Flood Control Management Cluster Patrick B. Gatan as among the officials who will be subpoenaed to the committee’s next hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.
On top of this, a subpoena decus tecum for DPWH official documents and transaction records, involving flood control projects from 2017 to 2018, will also be issued.
“May nag-uutos galing sa taas na i-short cut ang proseso sa flood control projects. Hindi dumadaan ang request ng district offices sa regional offices as required by DO (Department Order) 23. Diretso ang utos sa district engineers. Para maiwasan ang paper trail, no written orders or instructions. Viber messages lang,” Mr. Andaya said. (There is an order to cut short the process relating to flood control projects. The requests coming from district offices are not being reviewed by the regional offices, as required by DO 23. It is directed to the district engineers and to avoid paper trails, there were no written orders or instructions made. Instead, orders were made through Viber messages).
“These flood control projects submitted by the district engineers are then used to come up with a list of projects for approval by Sec. (Benjamin E.) Diokno,” he said.
The Committee had earlier said that the absence of a comprehensive plan on flood mitigation made it an easy target for “parked funds.”
But while it didn’t have a master plan, the DPWH had issued Department Order No. 23 to outline the guidelines and procedures in implementing government-funded flood mitigation projects.
The committee will hold a meeting on Monday. — C.A. Tadalan