THE DEPARTMENT of Justice (DoJ) has formed a “core group” that will lead investigations of various agencies for corruption, in line with President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s earlier order, it said in a statement on Wednesday.
Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra met with senior officials of the agency on Tuesday, including Prosecutor General Benedicto A. Malcontento and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Officer-in-Charge Eric B. Distor to discuss how to proceed with the probe.
The officials discussed “methods of securing information regarding incidences of corruption in government, and possible approaches for the conduct of the investigations,” DoJ said.
The probe will take into account the gravity of the allegations and their impact on the delivery of government services, according to the statement.
The core group will consist of members of the task force that probed corruption allegations at the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
The group will be headed by the DoJ and its members are the NBI, Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), Office of the Special Assistant to the President, National Prosecution Service and Anti-Money laundering Council, DoJ said.
“The task force shall also invite the Commission on Audit, Civil Service Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman to work together with the task force, with due consideration for their independence as constitutional bodies,” it added.
Mr. Duterte on Tuesday ordered the Justice department to probe all agencies for corruption, effective until 2022.
The DoJ was also authorized to create separate task forces for the probe.
Mr. Guevarra, whom the President ordered to probe the Agriculture and Public Works departments, earlier said the job was the toughest he had received from the President.
In a televised speech on Monday, Mr. Duterte read a memo for Mr. Guevarra asking him to investigate “the entire government” until his six-year term ends in less than two years.
Mr. Duterte flagged former officials from PhilHealth, adding that their resignation does not absolve them of the charges.
The President, whom critics have faulted for failing to disclose his net worth despite his vow of transparency, earlier ordered the DoJ to form a task force that investigated corruption at the state health insurer.
Lawmakers allegedly involved in corruption at the Public Works department get as much as a 15% cut for every infrastructure project, PACC Commissioner Greco Belgica told the ABS-CBN News Channel this week.
District contractors and engineers also get kickbacks, he added.
Mr. Belgica said only half of the fund goes to the infrastructure project, resulting in substandard work.
He said the agency was investigating the entire Public Works department and was building up its case against some officials.
Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar on Tuesday said he had formed a task force that will probe the allegations.
The investigation will cover all engineers regardless of their ranks, he told GMA News, adding that they won’t favor anybody. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas