Ombudsman to probe ‘flood control scam,’ says Andaya
MANILA, Philippines — Field investigators from the Office the Ombudsman have already reached out to the House rules panel and would begin their own probe on the so-called “flood control scam,” Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said Wednesday.
In a statement, Andaya said probers have requested copies of testimonial and documentary evidence that the committee generated during the public hearing in Naga City last week.
“Apparently, the Office of the Ombudsman has noticed red flags of corruption on the evidence presented and on the testimonies made during the hearing. We have seen these red flags of corruption ourselves, and we are sure that these will not evade the eagle eyes of the country’s graft-busters,” the Camarines Sur congressman said.
The House rules committee will cooperate with the Ombudsman, Andaya said.
“We may have opened a Pandora’s Box. We will not stop digging for the truth,” he added.
Andaya has been accusing Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno of “inserting” 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 congressmen whose districts would benefit from the programs.
Diokno said the P75 billion should not be called “insertions” as these were “adjustments” that were part of the budget process
Andaya has also been claiming that several contractors — which cornered billions in pesos of infrastructure project — are being used as dummies for Aremar Construction Corp., a company owned by Diokno’s in-laws.
Aremar is owned by Maria Minez Hamor, the daughter of Casiguran Mayor Edward Hamor. The said mayor is the step-father of Romeo Sicat Jr. who is married to Charlotte Justin, Diokno’s daughter. Mayor Hamor is a re-electionist while his wife, Ester — Sicat’s mother — is running for Sorsogon mayoral post.
Diokno and Mayor Hamor have dismissed the accusations. Diokno said the allegations were a mere diversion from the pork barrel issue, while Hamor slammed it as a “scare tactic.”
Diokno has refused to appear before the House probe, but Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, who is backing Andaya’s allegations, said they would move to subpoena the Budget chief.
“Yeah, definitely, ‘pag hindi siya umattend, su-subpoena namin,” the congressman from Quezon said in a press briefing.
“The minority remains firm in its call for a clean and honest governance, free from personal bias and conflicts of interest,” he also said.
Andaya started his exposès after Senator Panfilo Lacson alleged that Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo got P2.4 billion in “pork barrel” funds while the Camarines Sur congressman got P1.9 billion. Both denied Lacson’s allegations. /je
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