‘Andaya’s accusations are illusory’ – Diokno
MANILA, Philippines – Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno denied Friday corruption allegations thrown against him by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.
“His accusations are illusory. The numbers are wrong and the narrative he’s selling is not grounded on facts,” Diokno said in a statement.
The budget chief refuted Andaya’s claims during a legislative inquiry held in Naga City, Camarines Sur on Thursday, denying the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) had adjusted the 2019 budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) without the latter agency’s knowledge.
“The original budget proposal of the DPWH was PhP 652 billion, not PhP 488 billion as Congressman Andaya claimed in the Question Hour last December 11, 2018. The DBM then initially approved PhP 480.2 billion out of the PhP 652 billion budget request of the DPWH,” he said.
“But in the final phase of budget preparation, the total public infrastructure budget was still short of the government’s commitment to disburse at least 5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for infrastructure. This is why the budget of the DPWH was adjusted by PhP 75.5 billion,” he added.
Given the adjustment, Diokno pointed out “it was the DPWH who filled out their budgetary allocation with the specific project listing.”
“The mandate of the DBM is limited to setting the budget ceiling and evaluating agency proposals by program (not by project because that is the role of the implementing agency),” he said.
Hence, in the 2019 National Expenditure Program (NEP) total budget for DPWH is P555.7 billion, according to Diokno.
This was presented and approved by the Cabinet during their meeting on July 9, 2018, he added.
He also refuted the allegation that DBM anomalously allocated funds for flood control projects in the 2019 NEP.
“Of the PhP 652 billion budget proposal of the DPWH in 2019, PhP 132.5 billion was for flood control projects (including foreign-assisted projects). In the 2019 NEP, flood control projects by the DPWH totaled PhP 114.3 billion (including foreign-assisted projects), well below its initial funding request for flood control structures,” he said.
DBM, he also said, “is not privy to the breakdown of DPWH projects per district.”
“It is DPWH, as an implementing agency, that determines the specific project listing for the projects under each program and region,” he said.
He further denied DBM has a “favored contractor.”
“The DBM is not involved in the implementation of projects and awarding of contracts. Contracts are awarded to contractors after open and competitive bidding in accordance with the Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act,” he said.
He cited that this was confirmed by DPWH Assistant Secretary Antonio Molano, Jr. in a television interview.
“Again, the role of the DBM is to set the budget ceiling for the line agencies and to evaluate whether their programs are aligned with the government’s priorities,” he said. /kga
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