Stop ‘fake news,’ Diokno urged

December 20, 2018
Benjamin Diokno
Benjamin Diokno

SPEAKER Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other key House leaders did not request Road Board projects or call for the release of its funds, said House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. who  asked embattled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to stop peddling alleged “fake news” aimed at diverting focus on the reported budget anomalies that he has not been addressing.

Andaya, who chairs the House Committee on Rules, said Diokno should directly answer the supposed anomalies concerning the P75-billion insertions he made in the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget that allegedly benefited his in-laws in Sorsogon.

“The fake news being peddled must stop. No request nor projects for the district of either Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo or Majority Leader Rolando G. Andaya Jr.,” said the document allegedly from the Road Board released to House reporters by Andaya containing the list of Road Board approved and ready for release allocations per engineering/legislative district.

“I don't talk to him (Diokno). Wala naman akong karapatang mag-follow up sa kanya dahil wala naman akong hinihingi,” said Andaya.

The Andaya panel will begin its inquiry on the alleged budget controversies and questionable allocations by Diokno in the NEP on January 3, 2019 in Naga City.

Diokno claimed that he and other lawmakers, including House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez have been pressuring him to release the Road Board funds with the forthcoming elections.

“Alam mo siya (Diokno) ang releasing officer ng road-users tax, miyembro siya ng board, so kung ikaw mismo humihingi ng abolition ibig sabihin hindi mo kaya ang trabaho mo. Ganun ka-simple lang iyon. Hindi mo kaya iyong trabaho na ginagawa mo,” said Andaya.

In the document, Suarez has no approved projects where the allocations are ready for release.

According to the document released by Andaya, some of the lawmakers who allegedly requested projects from the Road Board include former House Majority Leader Rodolfo “Rudy” Fariñas, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list Reps. Jericho “Koko” Nograles and Mark Aeron Sambar, Kabayan Party-list Rep. Ron Salo, ANAC/IP party-list Rep. Jose T. Panganiban, Isabela Rep. Napoleon Dy, Pampanga Rep. Aurelio “Dong” Gonzales, Jr., MATA Party-list Rep. Tricia Nicole Q. Velasco-Catera, Batangas Rep. Ma. Theresa V. Collantes, Cavite Rep. Strike Revilla, Cavite Rep. Abraham Tolentino, Camarines Sur Rep. Salvio Fortuno, and others.

“My district has not received any Road Board Fund under the present Administration, even when I was the Majority Leader. As I said, it was (former) Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and I who initiated its abolition,” Fariñas told reporters in a viber group.

“I have referred many projects nationwide to all agencies including Road Board. It is entirely up to the agencies to act on my referred projects. I do not know if there are approvals or disapprovals by the agencies. As to this specific list, this is my first time to see this list. Is this a DBM document? Is this a Road Board document? Is this kuryente?” Nograles asked.

Earlier, Andaya said it was President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte who guided the leadership of Speaker Arroyo to withdraw the abolition of the Road Board.

Sometime before September 12, 2018, Andaya said he and Arroyo met President Duterte with former presidential assistant to the President Bong Go in Malacañang to get a clear signal about the proposal to abolish the Road Board that former Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez of Davao del Norte has been pushing.

Andaya clarified that the measure was not intended to abolish the Road Board, but to limit the controlling authorities of funds from seven-man to three department, namely the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation (DoTr), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).