House invites DBM chief, kin to probe alleged budget mess

MANILA The House Committee on Rules has formally invited Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, his daughter Charlotte Justine, and his inlaws who are incorporators of Aremar Construction to attend the resumption of the panel's probe on the alleged irregularities in the 2019 budget on January 15.

In a statement Friday, House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said the panel has also sent subpoenas to senior officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), AntiMoney Laundering Council (AMLC), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM), as well as the individual who reportedly acted as the liaison officer of C.T. Leoncio Construction in dealing with government contracts.

We expect full cooperation and full disclosure from those invited to the hearing as they will be testifying under oath. We also expect to be provided with documentary evidence that could shed light on the anomalous budget practices of the DBM and questionable allocations for DPWH, which we uncovered during the previous hearing, Andaya said.

This is the proper forum for our senior government officials to air their side on the issues at hand. We will give them all the time needed to present their case. But we expect specific responses to specific issues. No general denials, and hiding behind technicalities, the chair of the Committee on Rules added.

Andaya has accused Diokno of inserting PHP75 billion worth of flood control projects into the national budget that allegedly did not pass through the legal process for selection.

The Camarines Sur lawmaker, who was a former Budget Secretary, also claimed that Aremar Construction has cornered billions of pesos worth of infrastructure projects using several dummy corporations.

We hope the officials of AMLC can help the House committee identify who really benefited from the public funds that found their way to Aremar Construction and its dummy corporations, Andaya said.

Diokno earlier refused to attend the hearings, dismissing as "illusory" the House leader's allegations.

He maintained that the alleged insertion was actually a "legitimate adjustment" that was done to support the government's commitment to bring infrastructure spending to at least 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The Budget chief also said no contractor was favored in the awarding of projects since the DBM is not involved in the implementation.

"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," Diokno said. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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