Show up, Diokno urged

December 21, 2018
Benjamin Diokno
Benjamin Diokno

HOUSE Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. yesterday said embattled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno should not skip the congressional probe into his alleged P75-billion insertions in the proposed 2019 P3.757-trillion national budget.

“We hope Secretary Diokno will reconsider his decision not to appear in the hearings to be conducted by the House rules committee on the questionable allocations by the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) in the national budget. He has a lot of explaining to do,” said Andaya, who chairs the House committee on rules that will investigate the controversy on January 3, 2019 in Naga City. Earlier, Andaya bared that the town of Diokno’s in-laws in Sorsogon was allocated a whopping P325 million for flood-control projects in the 2019 national budget.

“In the proposed 2019 national budget, for instance, the House discovered recently that the DBM allocated more than P325 million for infrastructure projects in Casiguran, Sorsogon. These projects were included in the P75 billion inserted by the DBM in the NEP (National Expenditure Program) submitted to Congress,” said Andaya. He also turned the tables on Diokno for claiming that President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte was for the abolition of the Road Board.

Andaya reiterated that it was President Duterte who guided the leadership of Speaker Arroyo to withdraw the abolition of the Road Board. “I got to talk to the President personally on the matter. Secretary Diokno is just assuming. This is not the time to second-guess the President,” said Andaya.

“Now is the time for Sec. Diokno to talk to the President and come clean on the issue. He should stop giving alternative facts. He should stop blind-siding the President,” Andaya stressed.

Sometime before September 12, 2018, Andaya said he and Arroyo met President Duterte with former presidential assistant to the President Bong Go in Malacañang to get a clear signal about the proposal to abolish the Road Board that former Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez of Davao del Norte has been pushing.

Andaya clarified that the measure was not intended to abolish the Road Board, but to limit the controlling authorities of funds from seven-man to three-department, namely the Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)

“Better that Sec. Diokno bring with him a copy of the bill on so-called Road Board abolition personally to the President. Or if he is really up to it, I challenge Sec. Diokno to a debate on the proposed bill. To see who is telling the truth. And the truth that the DBM Secretary is hiding: the rescinded House bill did not completely and totally abolish the collegial 7-man Road Board,” Andaya explained.

“What the bill sought was to create the Three Powerful Road Board Kings. HB (House Bill) No. 7436 now confers those powers to Three Road Kings – the DPWH, DOTr and DENR secretaries – who will exercise absolute control  over the funds. Derecho ibibigay sa kanila at bahala na sila ang gagasta.  Each will have dictatorial powers over the funds. No oversight,” said Andaya.

“Kasing klaro pa ng sikat ng araw na sa ilalim ng HB No. 7436, ang  pondo ay off-budget, hindi  transparent  at idedeposito sa special trust funds under the control of the Road Board Kings. Ito ang division: eighty percent of collections will be controlled by the DPWH Secretary, ten percent by the DOTr Secretary, ten percent by the DENR Secretary (which is a new item). Worse, HB No. 7436 creates a new spending criteria: basura. Or garbage collection, waste disposal, solid waste program. Ano ang kinalaman ng basura sa motor vehicles at isiningit at iginiit ito? This is alien to the law’s underlying principle of using car registration fees to improve the quality and safety of our roads. The legislative promise of MVUC is that monies collected from car owners will be used for projects that will directly benefit them. This is a multi-billion-peso rider with no rhyme nor reason. Dahil ba may pera sa basura?” Andaya asked.