Budget chief urged to face House probe

December 28, 2018
Benjamin Diokno
Benjamin Diokno

AN opposition lawmaker has joined the House leadership’s call for Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno not to skip the congressional probe into his alleged P75-billion insertions under the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.

Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano urged Diokno to appear at the hearing of the House Committee on Rules chaired by House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. on January 3, 2019 in Naga City on questionable insertions in the national budget.

“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.

Diokno denied any irregularity concerning the budget process.

Alejano said Diokno “should see the process as an integral part of promoting transparency and accountability in the government” in light of 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 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,” Alejano said.

The House Committee on Rules 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 the so-called flood control scam and other alleged anomalous transactions involving multibillion peso infrastructure projects in the Bicol region.

Andaya said House Secretary General Dante Roberto Maling has sought the assistance of Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde to locate and serve the subpoena on the individuals invited to the January 3 hearing of the panel in Naga City.

Among those subpoenaed were Ms. 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; Ms. Malou Lacuna, Mr. Renato de Vera, and Dr. Elenita Tan.