Andaya bares favored Palace contractor
How did a single contractor bag 30 government projects worth billions of pesos before Congress could even approve the national budget for 2019?
It could only happen through “a miracle,” Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said on Monday as he defended the House of Representatives from allegations that some of its members benefited from a pork bonanza because they were close allies of Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Worse, Andaya said the Bulacan-based construction firm, CT Leoncio Construction and Trading, was not even a registered corporation but a single proprietorship owned by a certain Consolacion Tubuhan Leoncio.
“That is bad business practice. It’s wrong. It cannot be done, but it already happened,” the House leader said in a privilege speech during the House plenary session.
“A single proprietorship from Bulacan cornered contracts from even the farthest areas of the region. A miracle happened here,” he said.
The Camarines Sur representative said Leoncio’s company was awarded the projects long before the 292-member chamber could finish its deliberations on the proposed P3.8-trillion budget for next year.
“This happens when you rush the passage of the budget. You don’t notice that even before you could pass the budget, the funds had already been apportioned,” Andaya said.
“And to think, we are being accused of having pork barrel,” he said.
“It’s clear that even before the budget could be enacted, the funds already belonged to somebody and when (the National Expenditure Program) becomes law on Jan. 1, that lone contractor would have the projects, which it would just subcontract to other contractors.”
To back up his claims, he produced documents showing that Leoncio’s company had won government contracts in several provinces, including Catanduanes and Sorsogon.
“It’s not a single A or triple A company,” the House leader lamented.
“It’s a single proprietorship, just like a variety store. But it won billions [of pesos in projects]. How did that happen? Somebody in the higher echelons must be behind this,” he said.
Andaya also disclosed that billions of pesos worth of flood control projects and other infrastructure projects had been earmarked for Catanduanes and Sorsogon without the knowledge of their respective district representatives.
“I understand that a lot of members have the same experience. Maybe it’s about time some of you stand up for us to retake the power of the purse. We have been misunderstood and maligned all these years,” he said.
“Now, with me coming out and showing you hard proof of what you know, what has been done to you, maybe it’s about time we all, as one voice, stand up and expose this sham,” he said.
As to the claim of Sen. Panfilo Lacson that Arroyo’s political allies in the House received lots of projects, Andaya reiterated that the proposed budget submitted by the Department of Budget and Management was crafted during the tenure of then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez.
“Logic dictates that the large allocations per district would be from the allies of the previous leadership, and not from the present leadership,” the majority leader said.
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