De Lima says Duterte’s allies now at each other’s throat over ‘pork’ in 2019 budget
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte’s allies are now at each other’s throat over the controversial “billion insertions” in the 2019 budget, Senator Leila de Lima pointed out on Monday, branding the issue a “circus” and “royal rumble.”
“What a circus, to say the least! What a royal rumble! Duterte’s political allies, political vultures all, are now at each other’s throat – House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo versus Alvarez, and Reps. Andaya and Suarez versus Budget Secretary Diokno over the billions of ‘pork’ largesse sneakily inserted into the proposed national budget,” De Lima said in a statement.
House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. and Minority Leader Danilo Suarez have accused Budget Chief Benjamin Diokno of orchestrating the “insertion” of some P75 billion infrastructure fund in the proposed 2019 national budget without the knowledge of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Department of Public Works and Highways, as well those congressmen whose district would benefit.
But Diokno said the P75 billion should not be called “insertions” as these were “adjustments” that were part of the budget process.
De Lima said it has become obvious that these huge chunks of public funds were “made to appear as legitimate budget of agencies” to “sidestep the Supreme Court’s ruling against the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF)” or more popularly known as “pork barrel.”
“Rep. Andaya’s pointing to Diokno, the House’s call for his resignation, and its rejection by the Palace and the Cabinet, have set CGMA (Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) in direct collision course with Duterte. So what’s happening, is this the beginning of the end of the Duterte-Arroyo unholy alliance?” the opposition lawmaker asked.
Andaya also said the P75 billion worth of projects had already been bid out even before the passage of the budget, with 30 infrastructure projects given to a Bulacan-based contractor whose registration and standing was highly questionable.
De Lima also said it was hard to believe that the “scam” was not done by a clique of insiders in Malacañang and that Duterte has neither hand nor knowledge about this.
“Apalling and revolting! The pork barrel system is plaguing us once more, and like a bacteria of a different strain, attacking again the country’s public financial nervous system with morbid intensity under this regime,” she added. /ee
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