House leader scores Diokno

December 10, 2018
Rolando Andaya Jr.
House Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya delivers his privilege speech at the plenary of the House of Representatives. House photo by Gilbert Engay

Andaya denounces multi-billion peso flood control projects in Bicol already awarded even before 2019 budget okay.

EVEN before the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget could be approved, House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. bared yesterday that multi-billion peso flood control projects in Sorsogon and Catanduanes had already been allegedly bid out and awarded to a single proprietorship based in Bulacan.

In a privilege speech, Andaya hit Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno for allegedly “duping” Congress into approving the national budget without allowing amending the big-ticket items such as the billions of budgets in congressional districts that were already in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) even before it was submitted to the House of Representatives.

“They (DBM) are saying that Congress is ‘prohibited’ from touching the budget but when we talked to the President (Duterte), he said, just do what you have to do,” said Andaya. “So that order for us not to touch the budget, but in reality, we are just being fooled.”

This developed as  Diokno has asked for the postponement of the Question Hour at the House of Representatives scheduled at three in the afternoon this Tuesday.

But despite Diokno’s request for an indefinite postponement, Andaya said the House will continue with the conduct of the Question Hour.

While Diokno has been preventing the House from amending the national budget, Andaya said that a single contractor has been cornering billions of funds from flood-control projects in the second district of Sorsogon and the one lone district of Catanduanes without the knowledge of its lawmakers, Reps. Deogracias Ramos and Cesar Sarmiento, respectively.

“It would have been good if the (huge increase in the flood-control) budget (for 2018) went to flood-prone areas but nothing happened – it just went to districts that did not ask for flood-control (programs),” said Andaya.

“The contractor just subcontracts the projects to other (contractors),” he said. “It’s not even a corporation, it’s a single proprietorship just like a sari-sari store.”

Andaya alleged that something fishy has been going on because the questionable process could only be made possible if “there is somebody upstairs who is orchestrating it.”

He noted that under the 2017 national budget for 2017, the budget for flood-control was only P73 billion. However, the amount suddenly shot up to P123 billion under the 2018 national budget.

Andaya alleged that C.T. Leoncio Construction and Trading owned by Consolacion Tubuhan Leoncio has been cornering as many as 30 different projects even if is not a corporation but a “sole proprietorship” from Bulacan.

“Ipaalam ko lang yung web page ng DPWH sa Region 5, bogged down na. Wala na akong makitang detalye. Buti na lang nakaprint ako ng isang page pero itong page na ito makikita ninyo na ang buong kwento. Yan lahat ng project sa Sorsogon. Yang bilog na yan, lahat na yan isang contractor lang. Mahigit trentang project, isang contractor lang.

‘’Hindi pa pala napapasa yung budget, kinarne na. Hindi pa pasado ang budget, may may-ari na. Pagdating na ng Enero 1 pag aprubado na ang budget, sa kanya na ang proyekto na yan.Pero ang mas natatakakot, tingnan nyo na lang ang pangalan ng contractor ng mahigit trenta na project, hindi pa pala korporasyon, hindi man lang Single A or Triple A na kumpanya. Isa lang sya single proprietorship, para lang sari sari store,” he said.

Andaya also scored Diokno for saying that a reenacted budget will result in an economic slowdown, especially in the first and second quarter of 2019.

“Mr. Speaker, that’s a lot of hot air coming from his (Diokno’s) rear end. Anyone who says that does not know the history (of the annual General Appropriations Act),” he said.

The House Majority Leader cited fiscal year 2007 during the time of then President Arroyo when the previous year’s national budget was reenacted for three months.

“In that year, we experienced a large economic growth of 8.9 percent and a mind-boggling 8.3 percent growth in the second quarter (of the year),” Andaya said.

The House through House Resolution No. 2307 had earlier required Diokno to appear in the Question Hour to answer inquiries regarding the 2019 budget.

But Diokno had informed Andaya that due to the number of questions proposed, he will need more time to gather data and information to answer all their queries.

But Andaya said Diokno’s appearance in the Question Hour is necessary in order for the House of Representatives to be clarified on what actions were done in the budget before it was submitted to the House of Representatives.

“This seeks to re-establish the House’s power over the budget. The past few days, this institution including its leadership has been maligned wrongly in the media of its inherent and constitutional power. Recently I had been informed that of allegations that the big allocations were the allies of our present Speaker. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Let us all remember that when the budget was submitted to us, it was done under the previous leadership of the House. So logic dictates that the biggest allocations per district would be the allies of previous leadership and not the present leadership,” he said.