THE chairman of the House committee on rules yesterday bared there were at least P81-million worth of alleged deposit slips from winning contractors to the Aremar Construction Corp. or the firm owned by the family of embattled Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno’s in-laws.
During yesterday’s resumption of the probe on Diokno’s alleged anomalous budget practices that he vehemently denied, House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr., the panel chairman, alleged that the committee “established an initial paper trail of possible corrupt money transfer from dummy corporations to Aremar involving P81 million, an amount that breaches the P50 million-plunder point.”
“Allow me once again to share with you vital pieces of evidence now in possession of the House rules committee. Take a close look at the slides. Six deposit slips from Landbank. A total of P81 million deposited to the bank account of Aremar. Payment for DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) contracts. Payment made by Aremar’s dummy corporations,” Andaya told the panel.
“Sa laki ng kita ng Aremar mula sa pondo galing sa DBM (Department of Budget and Management), we expect them to pay a sizeable amount for taxes, right? In their financial statement submitted to the SEC, we noticed payment of taxes for only P15,685.00,” Andaya alleged. “Kung hindi napupunta sa taxes, saan napupunta ang pera ng Aremar?”
Andaya did not ask Casiguran, Sorsogon Mayor Edwin Hamor, the alleged owner of Aremar, about the Aremar account and the P81-million after the mayor claimed earlier in the hearing that he does not know the transactions of the firm after he divested his shares when he assumed the mayoralty post in 2016.
Hamor, who attended the hearing, also denied being an in-law of Diokno amid allegations that his municipality was favored in the allocation of funds for infrastructure projects.
He said it is his wife who is the in-law of Diokno.
“Ang tawag niya (Diokno) sa akin mayor. Pero hindi ko balae,” said Hamor. “Mas lalong hindi ko kaano-ano si Diokno.”
Diokno’s daughter, Charlotte, is married to Jojo Sicat, the son of Sorsogon Vice Governor Esther Hamor from a previous marriage.
At the same time, Hamor told lawmakers that the infrastructure projects poured into his municipality were all meant to lower poverty incidence, adding that Aremar is now owned by his children.
Andaya even asked Hamor if he has seen Diokno in the past and the mayor responded that he only saw the budget chief at a wedding.
At the same time, Andaya said most big time contractors that deal with the government merely use their “Triple A” qualification in bagging major projects and then farm these out to smaller contractors in exchange for “royalties.”