Palace confident Diokno can explain alleged budget insertions
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Monday said Budget Secretary Ben Diokno can explain before the House of Representatives the alleged insertions in the proposed 2019 national budget.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said this after Diokno was summoned to explain the supposed insertions of some P52 billion for certain legislative districts, which lawmakers had blamed for the delay in the approval of the proposed P3.8-trillion national budget for 2019.
“Let us hear him. They wanted to be enlightened that’s why they ask (him). It only means that they want to be enlightened, mukhang nalilito din (sila),” Panelo told reporters in an interview.
Asked if the Palace thinks Diokno can defend the budget, Panelo said: “I’m sure.”
Earlier, Senator Panfilo Lacson disclosed that the funds were allocated to certain House members, among them were Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who received P2.4 billion worth of projects, and House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr., P1.9 billion, for their respective districts.
Lacson said the P4.3-billion fund allotted to the legislative districts of Arroyo and Andaya was pork.
However, Panelo claimed that Arroyo has already reached out to Malacañang to explain the supposed P2.4 billion pork allocation to her district.
The Palace official said Arroyo texted him earlier and claimed that these items originated from different government agencies and not from lawmakers.
“Contrary to the allegation of pork barrel, they (lawmakers) said that this time there were items and these items were given by different agencies. In other words, prior to the approval they’ve been there, unlike the pork barrel where there is no specific item where it will go,” Panelo said. /je
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