HOUSE Majority Floor Leader Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. yesterday accused Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno of betraying President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte for allegedly manipulating the budget process by supposedly inserting P75 billion in the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.
“Huwag na siyang (Diokno) magtago sa saya ng Pangulo. It is clear that he blindsided the President on the budget process. The President trusted him, he betrayed that trust. The DBM Secretary must spare the President of this embarrassment. Pronto,” said Andaya after Diokno admitted during his Question Hour intense grilling last Tuesday that there were P75-billion “insertions” during the time of ousted Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.
“Ang mensahe ko na lang sa ating Presidente kausapin nyo po ‘yung inyong Secretary of Budget and Management dahil baka ho ihulog kayo sa bangin nyan. Nangyari na po ‘yan sa dati n’yang boss (former President Joseph Estrada). So it’s best na mag-usap-usap po sila para malaman talaga ang katotohanan imbes na magbangayan tayo sa media,” Andaya told reporters.
Andaya also said Diokno allocated P10 billion under the 2018 national budget and another P6 billion in next year’s national budget to the province of the politician-in-laws of his daughter in Sorsogon.
“Secretary Diokno admitted relationship with husband-and-wife Casiguran Mayor Edwin Hamor and Sorsogon Vice Governor Ester Hamor. Mga balae niya ang mag-asawang Hamor. Mga biyenan o in-laws ng anak ni Secretary Diokno. Ang nakakapagtataka, hindi raw alam ni Secretary Diokno na tatakbong mayor sa 2019 elections ang kanyang mga balae. Si Ester Hamor, tatakbong Mayor ng Sorsogon City, si Edwin Hamor naman re-electionist as Mayor of Casiguran, Sorsogon. Hindi raw ito nababanggit sa kanya ng anak niya,” said Andaya.
“What is also unbelievable, Secretary Diokno has no inkling that the DBM allocated and released P10 billion in infrastructure projects for Sorsogon province just for the 2018 budget alone. Next year, P6 billion naman ang ibibigay sa Sorsogon. Hindi niya raw alam na kasama ang mga amount na ito sa National Expenditure Program na binuo ng DBM. P10 billion this year at P6 billion next year, pero di alam ng Budget Secretary kung saan mapupunta?” Andaya asked.
Reports said that Diokno’s daughter Charlotte Justine is married to Romeo “Jojo” Sicat Jr. who happens to be the son of Esther Hamor in her first marriage to a certain Gerardo Sicat.
The Hamors, according to highly-reliable sources, are very close to the sole contractor C.T. Leoncio Construction and Trading -- owned by Consolacion Leoncio -- who Andaya claimed to have cornered huge projects in supposed connivance with some DBM officials.
Andaya said the firm allegedly is not a corporation and just a “sole proprietorship” or a “sari-sari store” from Bulacan.
In a television interview over GMA’s 7 morning program Unang Hirit, Consolacion Leoncio, the owner of CT Leoncio Construction and Trading, denied the alleged irregularities.
“Ang opisina ko kumpleto. Saka sarili ko ‘yang office. Hindi ako nagrerenta, akin ‘yan. Paano naman niya ako masasabing sari-sari store? Nakakasakit naman ng damdamin ‘yun,” said Leoncio, explaining she has a very legitimate business.
Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento reacted to the privilege speech of Andaya citing the budgetary allocation for the lone district of Catanduanes as being the recipient of a huge public works project which the province may not need.
According to Sarmiento, there was nothing wrong with the allocation for the province which was around P1.5 billion, more or less, every year since he was a congressperson in 2010.
“The P1.6-billion budget, as mentioned by the majority leader, is a regular budget allocation, wala namang dagdag ‘yan. That is in the National Expenditure Program,” said Sarmiento in an interview.
Sarmiento also debunked the statement that Catanduanes does not need a flood control project.
“Kailangan namin yan, binabaha kami every now and then,” Sarmiento added.
He said the House Majority Leader should look beyond Catanduanes because there are other congressional districts which are flooded with funds.
“May iba dyan, P5 billion…P6 billion ang mga allocation,” he said.
On the part of Sorsogon Rep. Deogracias Ramos, he said there is a need for more funding to control flooding.
“Ang Bulan at Irosin, madalas binabaha,” said Ramos to refute Andaya’s statement that his district does not need funding for flood control.
Before adjourning for the Christmas break, the plenary of the Lower Chamber adopted House Resolution (HR) No. 2365 urging President Duterte to sack Diokno over the budget insertions controversy.
In the resolution filed by House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo “Danny” Suarez, it cited “doubts as to the Secretary’s integrity and use of his position in accommodating and merging family with public interests.”