House to probe ‘Diokno-favored’ contractor, budget anomalies in January
MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on rules will hold a hearing in January to probe the suspected “favored contractor” of Budget Chief Benjamin Diokno, as well as the “budget anomalies and questionable allocations” by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said on Thursday that this is in line with Diokno’s “work first before leisure” remark to Congress.
“The committee on rules will continue its investigation on CT Leoncio, the suspected favored contractor of Sec. Diokno. Invitations/subpoenas are being sent out,” Andaya said in a text message.
In a separate statement, the Camarines Sur 1st District congressman said the hearing was set on Jan. 3, 2019 in Naga City.
As earlier announced, the chamber would summon Diokno as well as the regional directors of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), two district engineers of Sorsogon City, the district engineer of Catanduanes, and the heads of the DPWH bids and awards committee, active and recently retired, who handled the projects of CT Leoncio.
Andaya and Minority Leader Danilo Suarez have accused the DBM Secretary of orchestrating the “insertion” of some P75 billion infrastructure fund in the proposed 2019 national budget. They believe Diokno purportedly did this without the knowledge of President Rodrigo Duterte and the DPWH.
But Diokno has denied this.
Andaya further said the district congressmen were also not aware of the funds allotted to their districts.
He also tagged a Bulacan-based single proprietorship CT Leoncio Construction and Trading as involved in what he branded as a “large-scale scam” since it bagged billions of pesos in government contracts in various provinces across the country, based on the National Expenditure Program (NEP) submitted by Malacañang to Congress.
The NEP, which contains the breakdown of proposed allocations in government, was prepared by the executive branch.
Billions of payables
Moreover, Andaya said he’d also look into the total amount of payables the DBM owe contractors and suppliers this year. DPWH undersecretary for planning Ma. Catalina Cabral has confirmed to Congress that payables have reached P44 billion for DPWH alone, according to the Majority Leader.
“The billion-dollar question: why then did Secretary Diokno insisted on inserting an additional P75 billion in the DPWH infrastructure projects for 2019 when the DBM has no money to pay for P100 billion debt to contractors and suppliers? Mag-iinsert ka ng P75 billion, di naman pala mababayaran mga utang (You insert P75 billion but you cannot pay your debts)?” Andaya asked.
He warned that the payables could “cause an economic slowdown.”
“This is mismanagement. Malinaw na may kapabayaan dito si Secretary Diokno (It is clear that Secretary Diokno has liability here)… Unless he clears himself from this mess, there will be perpetual doubt that the people’s taxes are not safe under his stewardship,” Andaya added. /ee
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