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Diokno hoping for a ‘friendlier’ Congress next year

/ 02:19 PM December 19, 2018
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This photo, taken Jan. 3, 2017, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno holds a press briefing in Malacañang. (Photo by TOTO LOZANO / Presidential Photographers Division)

MANILA, Philippines — Budget Secretary Ben Diokno said he is hoping for a “friendlier” Congress next year as the government is set to operate under a reenacted budget in the opening months of 2019 due to Congress’ failure to pass the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget.

“I’m hopeful na hindi na siya mangyayari. Kasi there’s going to be a new Congress (after the elections)… hopefully much more friendlier,” Diokno said on Wednesday in a Palace briefing.

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This came after both houses of Congress went on Christmas break without passing the 2019 national budget.

Congress had transmitted the General Appropriations Bill (GAB) behind schedule. The Senate, meanwhile, had almost completed tackling the budgets of various agencies except for a few major departments like the Department of Tourism and the Department of Public Works and Highways.

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Some senators have earlier blamed the House of Representatives for the delay in passing the budget to due to the alleged unfinished “insertions” or “pork barrel.”

Lawmakers recently grilled President Duterte’s budget chief over the alleged pork barrel and anomalies involving government-favored contractors for infrastructure projects in Catanduanes and Sorsogon.

Diokno has denied the allegation, noting that he is not responsible for implementing projects and awarding contracts.

He further said that lawmakers are just diverting the issue and pressing him on the matter because Senator Panfilo Lacson already discovered a number of “pork barrels” in the proposed national budget.

“Nakita ni Ping (Lacson) ‘yung discrepancy ng President’s budget and the GAB. And dun lumalabas na there’s some P2.4B na bumukol doon sa distrito ni GMA (Speaker Gloria Arroyo) at saka sa distrito ni (House Majority Leader Rolando) Andaya,” Diokno said.

“So he (Lacson) was trying to ask them, ‘please explain’ e biglang instead of explaining, ako naman ang binanatan,” he added.

Earlier, Lacson disclosed that several lawmakers, including Arroyo and Andaya, will get billions of alleged “pork” for their respective districts. /je

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READ: Lacson: P2.4-B pork for Arroyo’s district

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TAGS: 2019 budget, Ben Diokno, Congress, corruption, DBM, General Appropriations Bill, Local news, Nation, national news, news, Philippine news update, ‎pork barrel
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