NAGA City -- HOUSE Majority leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr., yesterday castigated embattled Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno for purportedly not honoring his mantra on “duty first before leisure.”
This was developed by Andaya after Diokno went to the United States (US) despite the widely-announced congressional probe this morning on his alleged P75-billion budget insertions.
“Bumatse (Tagalog slang word for going away). Sec. Diokno is in the United States, how can we invite him? What happened to his ‘job first before leisure’ statement? His presence is very important to shed light on his questionable practices in the budget process. For the sake of transparency and accountability, he should explain and come clean,” Andaya, House committee on rules chair said in an interview.
Earlier, Diokno told lawmakers to practice “duty first before leisure” in urging lawmakers to pass the national budget before December 31, 2018 to avoid a reenacted budget.
“They have until the end of the year (2018), December 31st. They can work holidays, you know. In the US they work on Saturdays and Sundays. So as I’ve said, duty first before leisure,” said Diokno.
Diokno denied any irregularity on the issues raised against him concerning the budget process.
Despite Diokno’s ab-sence, Andaya said his panel will proceed with its probe on the budget controversies, including the alleged flood control scam and other anomalous transactions involving multibillion-peso infrastructure projects in Bicol.
“We will proceed with the probe despite his (Diokno) absence. It’s his loss, not ours,” said Andaya on the controversy that stemmed from Diokno’s alleged budget insertions under the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.
The investigation will start at 10 a.m today at the Avenue Plaza Hotel, Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City.
Among the House members expected to attend are House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep.
Danilo Suarez, Senior House Deputy Majority Leader and 1SAGIP Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, COOP NATCCO Rep. Anthony Bravo and Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Al-fredo Garbin, Jr.
The Andaya panel has already issued subpoenas to the owner of Diokno’s alleged favored contractor C.T. Leoncio Construction and several Department of Public Works and Highways’ (DPWH) officials to shed light on various budget controversies.
Among those subpoenaed for today’s hearing, according to Andaya, were Consolacion Leoncio, owner of C.T. Leoncio; and DPWH officials Engrs. Virgilio Eduarte, Danilo Verzola, Ignacio Odiaman, Wilfredo Flores, Larry Reyes, Merla Raveche, Jorge Gorimbao, Victor Azupardo, Gil Augustus Balmadrid, Noland Claro Guerrero; Malou Lacuna, Renato de Vera, and Dr. Elenita Tan.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano reiterated his call for Diokno not to skip the congressional probe.
“Without assuming who the real culprits behind these multibillion [peso] insertions are, an investigation is deemed proper since we are talking about the people’s money. Secretary Diokno, being the budget chief, is most fitting to answer these allegations,” said Alejano.
Alejano said Diokno “should see the process as an integral part of promoting transparency and accountability in the government” in light with the anti-corruption campaign of the present administration.
`“I agree that Secretary Diokno is a man of integrity, until proven otherwise. Kung walang itinatagong lihim o pinoprotektahang interes, taas-noong mahaharap ni Sec. Diokno ang mga alegasyong ito. Ang layunin ko at ng Magdalo sa panawagang ito ay hindi para dungisan ang ang pangalan ninoman, kundi para labanan ang korupsyon at isulong ang mabuting pamamahala. I expect the two branches of government to cooperate in its quest for the truth and bring to the Filipino people the service they deserve,” said Alejano.