For Duterte, Budget chief ‘one of the best’

December 13, 2018
Benjamin Diokno

MALACAÑANG yesterday said Budget Secretary Ben Diokno still enjoys the full trust and confidence of President Rodrigo Duterte amid issues surrounding the proposed P3.757 trillion national budget for 2019.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the remark after the House of Representatives, in a resolution on Wednesday, urged Duterte to fire his Budget chief over the alleged “executive pork insertions.”

“While we respect House Resolution No. 2365 which urges the Office of the President to reconsider the appointment of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno as an expression of sentiment from a separate branch of the government, we similarly wish to express that the President continues to trust the Budget Secretary and the confidence reposed on him remains unimpaired,” Panelo said in a statement.

He noted that Diokno’s record in the government service is unblemished in the mind of Duterte and the rest of his Cabinet.

“As one of the Administration’s economic managers, PRRD considers him as one of the best and brightest in his official family,” Panelo said.

“Secretary Diokno’s reputation as an upright, competent and honest public servant stays solid up to this day,” he added.

The House call for Diokno’s termination stemmed from the allegation of Majority Leader Rolando Andaya, Jr. that much of the contracts for the alleged “executive pork” amounting to P75 billion have apparently been bid out, with at least 30 infrastructure projects already cornered by a lone contractor.

The Palace official added that Congress, as part of its Constitutional duty, has the power to scrutinize the budget and even impose revisions or amendments.

“Should it feel that there was irregularity in the allocation of the budget, it can always correct it apart from having the option of recommending the filing of charges against those deemed responsible for the transgressions should the same amount to a crime,” Panelo said.

“In the same manner that the President doesn’t tell Congress who it will choose as its officers and how to go about it, we wish that its members return the same courtesy,” he added.