Andaya relents, bicam to pass 2019 budget even without Diokno's savings report | Inquirer News

Andaya relents, bicam to pass 2019 budget even without Diokno’s savings report

/ 06:47 PM February 04, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — While Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno still has to publicize the savings generated from the 2017 and 2018 national budget, House appropriations panel chair Rolando Andaya Jr. on Monday said they would no longer wait for it and would proceed with approving the 2019 spending bill.

“We can no longer wait for Secretary Diokno’s report on the DBM’s (Department of Budget and Management) pork report. The time for passing the 2019 national budget is running short. We will go on with the approval of the budget as scheduled,” the Camarines Sur 1st District congressman said in a statement.

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Andaya nonetheless stressed that the public “deserves to know how their taxes are being spent.”

“Hindi na maitatago ni Sec. Diokno ang bilyon-bilyong piso na ginawa niyang pork barrel niya. Alam na ng taumbayan ang pondong ito at dapat siyang magpaliwanag kung paano niya ginagastos ito (Sec. Diokno can no longer hide the billion so pesos in his pork barrel. The public knows that he should explain how this fund was spent),” he said, noting that he has documents showing that fund releases from 2017 savings were made last December “without the knowledge of Congress and without the signature of the President.”

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Andaya earlier compelled Diokno to report on government savings in 2018 in exchange for the bicameral approval of this year’s P3.8 trillion national budget.

READ: Reenacted budget looms over pork

But Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea nixed Andaya’s demands, saying this is not a prerequisite to approving the expenditure plan.

READ: Palace won’t heed Andaya’s demand to release 2018 savings report

Although Andaya maintained that the Palace should side with Congress in compelling Diokno, he still backpedaled from his ultimatum.

Andaya argued that the release of the savings list would “settle once and for all allegations that without the knowledge of the President, he (Diokno) has been funneling unreleased appropriations to his pet projects to the utter surprise of clueless agencies.”

The country has been operating under a reenacted budget since January, which means that the government is basing its expenditure on the 2018 financial plan, as Congress has yet to approve the 2019 General Appropriations Act. /ee

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TAGS: 2019 budget, Benjamin Diokno, Philippine news update, Rolando Andaya Jr., savings report
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