A HOUSE leader warned yesterday that the government could be accused of swindling legitimate contractors if it would not prioritize settling P100 billion in government payables to them amid the alleged P75-billion insertions made by embattled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno in the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.
This developed as House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr., the chairman of the House Committee on Rules, bared that his panel will begin its inquiry on alleged budget anomalies and questionable allocations by Diokno.
During last Tuesday’s Question Hour, Andaya said Diokno admitted that the government payables to contractors have reached P100 billion, P44 billion of which involves completed Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) projects.
“Hindi lang mukhang balasubas dito ang gobyerno. This will definitely cause an economic slowdown. Kung hindi mababayaran ng DBM ang P100 bilyon na utang nila. This is mismanagement. Malinaw na may kapabayaan dito si Secretary Diokno. Malinaw na dapat sagutin ito ni Secretary Diokno. Unless he clears himself from this mess, there will be perpetual doubt that the people’s taxes are safe under his stewardship,” said Andaya in a statement.
“I am particularly interested in knowing the total amount of payables that the DBM owe to contractors and suppliers this year. During the Question Hour, he (Diokno) disclosed that these payables run to billions of pesos. Ang utang ng DBM (Department of Budget and Management) sa mga contractor at supplier, aabot ng P100 bilyon para sa transaksyon ng buong gobyerno. Hindi mababayaran ito ngayong taon. This was not disputed by Secretary Diokno during Question Hour,” said Andaya.
“The DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) undersecretary for planning, Ma. Catalina Cabral, has confirmed to Congress that for DPWH alone, the payables have reached P44 billion. Hindi pa raw ito nababayaran hanggang ngayon,” said Andaya.
“The billion-dollar question: why then did Secretary Diokno insist on inserting an additional P75 billion in the DPWH infrastructure projects for 2019 when the DBM has no money to pay for P100 billion debt to contractors and suppliers? Mag-iinsert ka ng P75 billion, di naman pala mababayaran mga utang?” Andaya lamented.
Probe starts in Naga
Andaya’s committee will conduct an investigation into the alleged budget anomalies and questionable rewarding of infrastructure projects to a favored construction firm.
Andaya will kickoff the investigation on January 3, 2019 in Naga City.
The focus of the probe is the questionable allocations made by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Secretary Benjamin Diokno.
To be subpoenaed are the owner of CT Leoncio Trading; regional director of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), two district engineers of Sorsogon City and the district engineer of Catanduanes; heads of the DPWH bids and awards committee, active and recently retired, who handled the projects of CT Leoncio.
Earlier, Andaya charged that the DBM granted CT Leoncio juicy projects in Sorsogon and Catanduanes amounting to billions of pesos.
The committee, on a later date, also intends to summon Diokno to shed light on pending queries related to the 2018 national budget and proposed 2019 GAA.
“I am particularly interested in knowing the total amount of payables that the DBM owe to contractors and suppliers this year,” Andaya said.
With Jester P. Manalastas