House panel won’t let Diokno off the hook

BENJAMIN Diokno is not yet off the hook as the chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts is bent on pursuing the probe of his alleged P75-billion insertions and questionable budget practices notwithstanding his appointment to replace late Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Nestor Espenilla Jr.

House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danny Suarez, who chairs the House public accounts committee, said his panel will continue the investigation of Diokno which the House committees on rules and appropriations initiated.

“May pending issue pa sa House, wala pa kaming closure. Sana naman hinintay muna ang closure,” Suarez told reporters in a press conference.

“I will continue hearing (Diokno’s budget practices). (I’ll be) taking advantage of my few remaining months in Congress,” said Suarez.

“If there is a need,” he responded when asked if Diokno will be called to the inquiry despite the latter’s non-appearance in the previous hearings.

COOP NATCCO party-list Rep. Anthony Bravo, a member of the minority bloc, said he expects the new secretary of the DBM to cooperate in their inquiry.

“Documents are still there in the DBM. And now that there will be new secretary to be appointed by the President. I am looking forward that secretary will be showing us all the documents for the purpose of transparency,” Bravo said in the same press conference.

Earlier, Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr., who chairs the House Committee on Appropriations, said the panel of Suarez will continue hearing the issue over the P75-billion insertions of Diokno and will call his Chief of Staff Budget Undersecretary Amenah Pangandaman and Engr. Glenn Degal, a technical expert assigned at the programming division of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)-Planning Service.

Instead of citing him in contempt and compelling his presence in the congressional inquiry, Andaya earlier said that the committee would now focus on the filing of criminal complaints against Diokno and others for allegedly giving undue advantage to the Aremar Construction firm owned by his in-laws’ family.

The original investigating panel on Diokno’s questionable budget practices that he vehemently denied was the House Committee on Rules when Andaya was still its chairman being the House Majority Leader.

Earlier, Andaya said his panel was eyeing possible plunder and tax evasion complaints against the owners of Aremar Construction after his panel got hold of more than P50-million worth of alleged deposit slips made to the firm by big-time or triple A construction companies which allegedly stood as “dummies” of the company.