THE chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations vowed to question before the Supreme Court the veto message of the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget should embattled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno succeed in restoring his P75-billion insertions.
Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr., the panel chairman, said he would be joining Sens. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Frank Drilon in the petition if Diokno and former House leaders like Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, former House appropriations panel chairman, will make a move to restore the P75-billion.
“In case the two Cabinet members succeed in this evil scheme of vetoing the 2019 GAB to restore the P75-billion insertion, I will join Sen. Lacson and Sen. Drilon in questioning the veto message before the Supreme Court,” Andaya, a former Budget secretary, told reporters as the national budget is being readied for President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s signature after Congress ratified it last Friday night.
“It is Congress’ job to scrutinize the NEP (National Expenditure Program) as part of its budget authorization function. Now that Congress has fulfilled its job in correcting the P75-billion gaffe, Sec. Diokno and Sec. Nograles are back to the drawing board to restore it in the 2019 GAA via a veto message. This is clear mockery of the power of Congress to scrutinize the budget,” Andaya pointed out.
Andaya also asked Diokno to stop using the name of President Duterte in referring to the 2019 national budget as the Chief Executive’s NEP when the latter had nothing to do with the P75-billion insertions that were removed by the bicameral conference committee.
“I do not know where Sec. Diokno gets the gall to call the 2019 NEP, with DBM’s P75-billion insertion, as the President’s Budget. The President is not part of the conspiracy between the DBM and the previous House leadership. It will be a great disservice and disloyalty for few Cabinet members to drag the President into this mess,” Andaya explained.
Andaya said Lacson is correct in his observation that the P75-billion insertion in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) was “a conspiracy between the DBM and the previous House leadership.”
“I find it interesting how the DBM can maneuver to restore its P75-billion insertion in the final print of the 2019 General Appropriations Bill, which has already been approved by both the Senate and the House of Representatives,” said Andaya.
“My unsolicited advice to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the new spokesperson of DBM Sec. Ben Diokno: be careful with the crafting of the veto message for it will just lead back to where it all started. The public never forgets that you were part of the previous House leadership as chairman of the Appropriations Committee,” Andaya stressed.
Andaya also said that the P75-billion Diokno’s insertions at the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) were the source of P160-million projects for each congressman while senators got their share too.
“Liwanagin ko lang na hindi lang (House) panel ang tumapyas doon. Pati ‘yung Senado. Kasama sila sa pagtapyas ng pondo,” Andaya told Rowena Salvacion’s Buena Manong Balita radio morning program over dzBB Sunday.
“Totoo ‘yan, dahil ‘yun ang napag-usapan ng buong kapulungan na walang maze-zero ngayon,” said Andaya. “Noong nakaraan, may mga distrito na base sa pagboto ng mambabatas, kung pumabor o hindi pumabor sa isang panukala, ay nabigyan ng zero, at tiniis ‘yun ng distrito sa isang taon. Ngayon naman, gusto naming pantay-pantay ang pagbigay sa lahat.”