House panel summons Diokno et al to probe into flood control ‘scam’

BUDGET Secretary Benjamin Diokno, his daughter Charlotte Justine and owners of Aremar Construction are expected to appear before the House probe into the questioned flood control funds.

The House Committee on Rules, chaired by Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr, has already summoned Diokno and others to explain why Sorsogon is getting huge amounts of funds from the general appropriations act.

The next hearing is scheduled on January 15 in the House of Representatives.

The committee at the same time sent subpoenas to senior officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), Bureau of Internal Revenue and Department of Budget and Management.

“We expect full cooperation and full disclosure from those invited to the hearing as they will be testifying under oath. We also expect to be provided with documentary evidence that could shed light on the anomalous budget practices of the DBM and questionable allocations for DPWH, which we uncovered during the previous hearing,” Andaya said.

“This is the proper forum for our senior government officials to air their side on the issues at hand. We will give them all the time needed to present their case. But we expect specific responses to specific issues. No general denials, and hiding behind technicalities, he added.

Andaya accused Diokno and owners of Aremar Construction of conniving to get  huge funds for flood control projects.

The House leader  said these are  multi-billion peso flood control projects, which did not pass through the legal process for selection and were inserted into the national budget without the knowledge of DPWH Secretary Mark Villar.    

A huge chunk of the flood-control projects was allocated not to flood-prone areas and danger zones, but to favored areas such as Casiguran, which has no threat of flooding, Andaya said.

Aremar Construction, which is owned by the in-laws of Diokno, allegedly cornered billions of pesos worth of projects in Sorsogon using dummy corporations.     

At least P70 million worth of kickbacks were deposited to the bank account of Aremar by their dummy contractors, Andaya charged.

“Proof: five deposit slips of different dates and different construction firms,” Andaya said.

“The deposit slips clearly indicate that these are proceeds from DPWH contracts, none of which Aremar won through bidding.

”We hope the officials of AMLC can  help the House committee identify who really benefited from the public funds that found their way to Aremar Construction and its dummy corporations,” Andaya said.