Diokno still enjoys Duterte’s trust, Palace asserts

MANILA MalacaAang respects the resolution adopted by the House of Representatives (HOR) to reconsider the appointment of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno but stressed that he still enjoys the trust of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after the House adopted Resolution No. 2365 based on findings obtained from Diokno's answers at its Question Hour on Monday.

Lawmakers grilled Diokno on the alleged PHP75 billion worth of insertions contained in the PHP3.757-trillion proposed national budget for 2019 without the President's consent.

The DBM chief was also accused of having links to CT Leoncio Construction and Trading, a contractor that bagged billions worth of government projects, an allegation which he denied.

Panelo emphasized that the Palace considers the House resolution as a sentiment from a separate branch of government.

While we respect House Resolution No. 2365 which urges the Office of the President to reconsider the appointment of Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno as an expression of sentiment from a separate branch of the government, we similarly wish to express that the President continues to trust the Budget Secretary and the confidence reposed on him remains unimpaired, Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo pointed out that because the President himself did not interfere with any branch of government when it came to selecting their leaders, he hoped the legislative branch would do the same.

In the same manner that the President doesn't tell Congress who it will choose as its officers and how to go about it, we wish that its members return the same courtesy, he added.

Panelo acknowledged that Congress, having the power of the purse, has the constitutional duty to scrutinize the budget and also revise or amend proposals found in it.

However, he said Congress could find other ways to correct irregularities in the proposed 2019 budget apart from recommending the sacking of the DBM chief.

Should it feel that there was irregularity in the allocation of the budget, it can always correct it apart from having the option of recommending the filing of charges against those they deem are responsible for the transgressions should the same amount to a crime, Panelo said.

Panelo noted that for the President and the rest of the Cabinet, Diokno's record in the government service is unblemished.

Sec. Diokno's reputation as an upright, competent and honest public servant stays solid up to this day, Panelo said

He said the President also considers Diokno, one of the administration's economic managers, as one of the best and brightest in his official family.

On Wednesday, Panelo said the Palace will investigate claims made by House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. that a favored contractor bagged billions in government projects in the proposed 2019 budget.

Despite Diokno's denial, Panelo said the executive branch will still investigate the allegations, and committed that there will be no sacred cows.

Secretary Diokno has already denied any involvement or any link. But let me repeat what we have said repeatedly: This President is no respecter of friendship, of alliances, of party affiliations, of friendship. His principle is you follow the law; you violate it you will account for it. You engage in corruption, then you will be fired, Panelo said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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