‘Don’t hide behind palace’

December 14, 2018
Rolando Andaya Jr.
Rolando Andaya Jr.

HOUSE Majority Leader Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. yesterday challenged embattled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to stop using Malacanang to defend himself over alleged budget controversies and questionable allocations in the national budget.

Andaya made this statement after President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte last Thursday in his speech delivered during the unveiling of a marker in a Las Pinas hotel that washed his hands of the budget controversy.

“The President has spoken. He has no hand in the identification of infrastructure projects inserted by the DBM in the national budget,” said Andaya.

“The President’s statements speak volumes. Those who hide behind the mantle of the presidency, invoke his name for actions he knew nothing of, withhold information from him, should take the cue,” Andaya said.

He said “the message of President Duterte is loud and clear: identification of projects and disbursement of budget allocations is the work of his Cabinet.”

“He (President Duterte) is not, in any way, involved in this process,” said Andaya.

In the President’s speech, he said any budget documents pertaining to projects and money did not reach his table.

“I tell you now again and again, there is no document or documents involving money, public or private projects, and everything. It does not reach my table either in the office or in my house. It begins and starts with a Cabinet member,” said Mr. Duterte.

“Maghanap kayo ng dokumento either in Congress, CoA (Commission on Audit) wala talaga kayo . . . wala kayong makita na approved or disapproved. Kanila ’yan,” the President said.

“Ako, mga appointments, then policies pati yung mga policies natin with our bilateral and multilateral commitment. Hanggang diyan lang ako,” the President added.

On Thursday, Andaya warned that the government could be accused of swindling legitimate contractors if it will not prioritize settling P100 billion in government payables to them amid the alleged P75-billion insertions made by Diokno in the proposed 2019 P3.757 trillion national budget.

During last Tuesday’s Question Hour, Andaya said Diokno admitted that the government payables to contractors have reached P100 billion, P44-billion of which is from completed Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) projects.

This developed as the Andaya panel is set to begin on January 3, 2019 in Naga City its investigation into the budget controversies.

Andaya said his committee will subpoena, among others, the regional director of the DPWH, two district engineers of Sorsogon City and the district engineer of Catanduanes.

He said also to be summoned are the heads of the DPWH bids and awards committee, active and recently retired, who handled the projects of alleged favored contractor C.T. Leoncio Construction and Trading owned by Consolacion Leoncio.