HOUSE Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. is expected to file today a case of mandamus before the Supreme Court to compel Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to release the fourth tranche of salary increase for state workers, including teachers, soldiers and policemen.
A congressman who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak on the matter said he was informed about the filing of the petition, which was being finalized as of press time yesterday.
“I was informed that the petition will be filed tomorrow (Monday),” said the lawmaker.
Andaya, who chairs the House Committee on Rules, has yet to respond to this reporter’s query about the scheduled filing of the petition.
Earlier, Andaya, a former secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), bared his decision to personally file a case of mandamus as he hit Diokno for telling government workers that the scheduled salary increase will be delayed due to Congress’ failure to approve the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.
Andaya, ex-chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations, said the salary hike of soldiers, policemen, teachers and civilian employees should be given on time as mandated by Executive Order (EO) No. 201, which then President Benigno Aquino III issued in 2016, granting government employees four tranches of salary increases starting that year until 2019.
He also noted that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte signed Joint Resolution No. 3 extending the validity of the 2018 P3.767-trillion national budget until December 31, 2019.
“Considering the fact that the cash budget proposal this year is the same as last year, then a reenacted budget covers the needed funding for the salary increases. The President’s decision to extend the 2018 budget under Joint Resolution No. 3 also gives DBM more spending authority,” Andaya said.
Andaya cited the availability of P100 billion funds under the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) of the reenacted 2018 national budget that Diokno can legally release without delay for the fourth tranche of salary increase of at least 1.6 million state workers.
“Under the reenacted budget, there is P100 billion allocated for salary increases under the MPBF. Double the amount of what is in the 2019 proposal. Common sense for the Budget Secretary to use this amount to pay for salary increases due our civil servants,” said Andaya who is now investigating Diokno’s alleged questionable practices in the budget process.
“Besides, who says we need to use the full amount during the reenacted period? That budget is for the entire year. Halos isang buwan lang mahigit ang tatagal ng reenacted period o baka mas maikli pa. Ito lang ang kailangang gastusan ng DBM,” said Andaya.
He asked Diokno to stop using the “unconstitutional” non-release of the salary increase of government workers, including teachers, soldiers and policemen in his supposed bid to evade congressional investigation in connection with his supposed questionable budget practices and alleged multibillion-peso flood control scam.
“He should stop using our civil servants as pawns in his bid to avoid answering questions of public interest,” said Andaya.
An opposition leader urged the House Committee on Rules to subpoena embattled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno should he ignore tomorrow’s panel hearing on his alleged anomalous practices in the national budget that he has consistently denied.
House minority leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said the panel chaired by House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya should compel Diokno to attend the hearing and come clean on his alleged P75-billion insertions under the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget and other controversies.
“We must compel Sec. Diokno to attend the hearing]. Definitely ‘pag hindi siya mag-attend, isu-subpoena namin siya,” Suarez pointed out.