‘Insertions’ in 2019 budget? Just cut it, says Sotto
MANILA, Philippines — Just slash the budget “insertions.”
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III offered this solution on Thursday as he defended Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno from allegations he was behind the P75 billion insertion in the 2019 budget.
“Ben Diokno has been doing a good job and has never been known to indulge in any illegal actions as far as the government budget is concerned,” Sotto said in a text message when sought for comment on the resignation calls against the budget chief.
At first, the Senate leader was baffled how the budget proposal contained in the National Expenditure Program (NEP) was suddenly called an insertion.
“Medyo malabo,” Sotto said.
“If insertions are done after NEP has been submitted, then those are insertions. If legislators have something to do with the implementation, then it’s pork.
“But if submitted before the NEP, that’s not an insertion, that’s a proposal,” he pointed out.
Sotto stressed that it is not an insertion if the budget came from the original proposal of Malacanang or the Department of Budget.
“Ang tumatanggap ng proposal at nagdagdag ng kung ano ang insertion,” he said.
When told about the P75 billion budget for public works projects in the 2019 budget being made allegedly without the knowledge of President Rodrigo Duterte, Sotto said: “Eh ‘di i-cut. Madali ‘yun.”
It was House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. who claimed that Diokno was the one behind the P75 billion insertion in the NEP.
But Diokno refuted Andaya’s claim, saying it was not an insertion as “it’s part of the budget process.” /je
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