HOUSE Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. bared yesterday that the daughter of embattled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s in-laws allegedly entered into at least four joint ventures with the purported favored contractor, CT Leoncio Construction and Trading for the implementation of almost P550-million road projects in Sorsogon.
“The House rules committee has yet to commence its formal investigation on the questionable multi-billion allocation by DBM for Sorsogon but this early, pieces of evidence being uncovered point to the in-laws of a Cabinet official as end beneficiaries of the infrastructure projects,” said Andaya, who chairs the House Committee on Rules.
“Apparently, they only not know but have entered into a joint venture with the said company, which cornered a chunk of the P10 billion allocated by the DBM for Sorsogon in the 2018 national budget,” said Andaya whose panel will begin its inquiry on the alleged budget controversies and questionable allocations by Diokno in the national budget on January 3, 2019 in Naga City.
According to Andaya, Casiguran, Sorsogon Mayor Edwin Hamor has allegedly admitted in a recent television interview that his children own a construction company and may know the controversial CT Leoncio Construction and Trading.
Andaya said Hamor is the father of Jojo Sicat, the husband of Diokno’s daughter, Charlotte Justine.
Edwin Hamor’s wife, Ester is the incumbent Vice Governor of Sorsogon, said Andaya.
Andaya said that documents obtained by the House panel allegedly showed that a daughter of the Hamors, Maria Minez Hamor, owns Aremar Construction Corp.
“Inamin na ito ni Mayor Hamor. Sabi niya baka kakilala ng anak niya ang CT Leoncio. Pero hindi lang pala kilala ng anak niya, ka-partner pa sa ilang proyekto,” Andaya alleged.
“We have identified at least four joint ventures between Aremar and CT Leoncio in Sorsogon,” said Andaya.
He said the projects include the P49-million highway improvement for Aruman-Casiguran Road; P96-million construction of Barcelona-Casiguran diversion road; P115-million tourism road leading to Bulusan National Park; and the P289-million Daang Maharlika Section in the 1st District of Sorsogon. These projects alone cost the taxpayers a total of P549 million.
Diokno reiterated that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte fully supports him amid the controversy surrounding the budget approval process.
As a show of support for him, Diokno said that the President is not calling for a special session to give lawmakers more time to deliberate on the budget and that releases for road board projects shall be stopped.
“President Duterte said absolutely no releases for Road Board projects,” said Diokno.
For Sorsogon Rep. Deogracias Ramos and Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, they have been inconsequential victims of a tiff between warring politicians.
In a television interview over GMA’s 7 morning program Unang Hirit, Consolacion Leoncio, the owner of CT Leoncio Construction and Trading, denied the alleged irregularities.
But Andaya said House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez’s revelation during the congressional Question Hour last Tuesday at the House of Representatives was allegedly proven to be true.
“The Hamors are in-laws of the Budget Secretary, who happens to be the Cabinet official responsible for allocating budgets in the National Expenditure Program of government,” said Andaya.
“Nag-uumpisa pa lamang ang aming imbestigasyon. Ito pa lamang ang mga paunang datos na nakukuha namin. But this early, it is clear that at least P550 million infrastructure projects in Sorsogon found their way to the in-laws of Secretary Diokno. Hindi pa po kasama dito ang iba pang projects na nakuha din ng Aremar Construction sa Sorsogon,” said Andaya.
“Just because it was approved by Congress does not erase the fact that it was Sec. Diokno who approved the allocations for Sorsogon and included them in the NEP (National Expenditure Program). The DBM Secretary has the final say on what projects will be submitted to Congress. Implementing agencies can only recommend to him. That is why each year it is the DBM secretary who personally submits it to Congress,” said Andaya.