THE GOVERNMENT should consider allowing independent experts to investigate the alleged corruption within the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), an infrastructure think-tank said Thursday.

DPWH Secretary Mark A. Villar earlier this week formed a task force composed of department officials to probe anomalies inside the agency.

InfrawatchPH Convenor Terry L. Ridon, however, said an internal investigation would be regarded as merely for show after President Rodrigo R. Duterte lashed at the department last week for corrupt practices.

“The department’s anti-corruption task force requires independent views to ensure that its findings will be transparent and made with integrity,” he said, “Anything less will be perceived by the public as a ‘komite de abswelto’ if the task force will be composed of agency officials and personnel.”

Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said on Wednesday that it is not “inconceivable” that Mr. Duterte may create a separate task force for DPWH “in the same way he formed one for PhilHealth.”

Mr. Ridon said “legal bid rigging” of government contracts is the main problem in government projects.

“A review of infrastructure projects with only single bidders would show that its project prices offer no substantial variation from its approved budget, which is the ceiling price for all projects. In one of the more controversial DPWH projects in Metro Manila, the final contract price of P389-Million only had a 2.04% variance from the approved project budget of P398-Million,” he said.

This system, he said, allows private contractors and government employees to collude.

The Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission has previously listed DPWH as the most corrupt government agency. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza