Show up, Diokno ordered

Benjamin Diokno

FOR not showing up again in the probe into budget insertions, the House Committee on Appropriations decided to order Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to appear in the next hearing.

Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso moved for the order which was supported by the members of the committee present at yesterday’s continuation of the hearing on the alleged budget insertions.

Diokno, who was accused of manipulating the budget by inserting for funding some questionable projects like flood control in Sorsogon, have been ignoring several invitations to the inquiry.

Committee chairman Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. said the show-cause order will let Diokno explain why he should not be cited in contempt for skipping the House inquiry.

“It is lamentable that the DBM Secretary Diokno continues to deprive the committee of the opportunity to question him directly on several issues hounding the DBM,” Andaya said.

“We have provided him the proper forum to clear his name of any wrongdoing. For the nth time, however, he refused to honor the invitation of this committee,” he added.

Meanwhile, at yesterday’s hearing, the DBM continued to point to the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) as the one that encoded the projects to be funded by the alleged P75 billion insertion.

But the solons are not convinced because DPWH Secretary Mark Villarhas admitted that he has no idea that the P75 billion was included in the budget of the agency.

Because of this, Deputy Speaker Prospero Pichay moved to subpoena the  seven encoders of the DPWH who allegedly went to the DBM to encoded the projects in the system.

“We want to ask the encoders who ordered them to encode the projects,” Pichay said.

Villar said he came to know about the extra funding of P75 billion only when the DBM released the National Expenditure Program (NEP).