Palace to probe alleged ‘favored contractor’

MANILA MalacaAang on Wednesday said it will look into claims made by a House leader that a favored contractor bagged billions in government projects in the PHP3.757-trillion proposed national budget for 2019.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. accused Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno of having links to CT Leoncio Construction and Trading, a contractor which bagged at least 30 government projects.

Andaya also claimed that Diokno allowed the insertion of some PHP75 billion in the proposed 2019 budget without the President's consent.

Diokno denied the allegations, insisting that that the amount cannot be considered insertions because they were intentionally augmented and part of the budget process.

Since there is an allegation of corruption, it follows that we have to investigate, Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

We have to investigate first. We don't even know if it's true or not. Because there have been denials. We have to know exactly whether the charges or allegations of corruption is true or not or favoring certain persons or firms, he added.

Panelo said despite Diokno's denial, 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.

'Man of integrity'

Panelo, however, said Diokno still enjoys the trust and confidence of the President.

Oh, definitely. Mr. Diokno is known to be the Mr. No. Meaning, he is a man of integrity. So, when he says he's not involved, I believe him. Unless you show me, as a lawyer, competent evidence to the contrary; the presumption he is a man of competence and integrity, Panelo said.

Meanwhile, Panelo denied that the executive branch's plan to probe the alleged budget insertions is not interference.

On the part of the Executive, it wants to know whether or not there have been illegal insertions in the budget. On the part of the House, they will investigate whether or not these insertions made are really illegal, Panelo said.

Panelo said the President will not interfere with any department or branch of the government but will make sure that officials involved in corruption will be held accountable.

He has not interfered and will not; he will only come in when there is corruption, Panelo said.

Asked if the Palace wanted an overhaul of the budget, Panelo insisted that it is the job of the Congress to scrutinize the budget.

It's their (Congress') call, they can do whatever they want to with the budget provided it's within the constitutional restrictions, Panelo said insisting that the President will not allow any violation on the law.

If it violates the Constitution or the laws covering it then certainly, we will not allow it. So, that's precisely why I'm telling you, its House call they will have to deliberate. They will have to decide whether or not this is in violation of the Constitution, he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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