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Malacañang: Congress should explain P2.4-B realignment in 2019 proposed budget

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, December 7th, 2018

 

MANILA, Philippines — House Speaker Gloria Arroyo and other congressmen should provide clarifications concerning funds that were allegedly realigned to their districts in the House version of the 2019 proposed national budget, according to Malacañang.

This was after negative reactions surfaced from different quarters on the alleged existence of pork barrel in the 2019 proposed budget.

On Wednesday, Senator Panfilo Lacson presented a list of what he believes are inserted pork barrel funds in the P3.575 trillion budget transmitted from Congress, including billions of pesos allocated to the projects in the districts of two lawmakers.

On the other hand, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said, “I think we should ask the Speaker why the allocation is that large as compared to others…the fact that some quarters are reacting, it behooves those who are involved in the realignment to respond to the protest of some elements of the society.”

However, Malacañang reiterated it is a different issue if the realignment can be justified.

The official also assured that the government will not allow any form of corruption.

“If the Speaker or whoever is involved with that realignment can justify why there is a need to place that kind of amount in a particular area and the other areas don’t need that, then that could be justified. If the other areas need that kind of money, and you’re depriving them of that, then there’s something wrong with that,” said Panelo.

Malacañang is also confident that President Duterte won’t allow the budget proposal of his administration to be used in corruption.

It is also possible for the president to veto line items in the proposed budget when necessary.

“The president can always use the veto power if he feels that there is a need for that,” said Panelo. — Rosalie Coz | UNTV News & Rescue

 

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Diokno on 2019 budget woes: ‘No insertions but part of the process’

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

 

House Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. (left) accuses an Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno (right) of inserting unapproved billions of pesos into the proposed 2019 national budget.

 

QUEZON CITY, Philippines –House Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. and Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Tuesday (December 11) engaged in a heated argument over alleged insertions in the proposed 2019 national budget.

During the question hour, Andaya alleged that Diokno orchestrated the insertion of some billions of pesos into the national budget without the knowledge of President Rodrigo Duterte.

In particular, Andaya noted the huge amount inserted in the budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) worth P51-B for infrastructure projects, also without the knowledge of Secretary Mark Villar.

“He asked for 480, you gave him a ceiling of 480, and lo and behold, there was an insertion of 50 billion which no one now claims. So what is this 51 billion insertion of yours all about?” Andaya asked Diokno.

Andaya claimed to have spoken with the President and Villar on the matter but both officials purportedly said they had no idea about it.

But Budget Secretary Diokno maintained there were no irregularities in the proposed national budget and the issues Andaya was raising were actually part of the process in budget preparations.

Diokno said the DBM only added an amount to the initially approved budget of DPWH which was P480.2B since the agency requested a much higher amount of P652-B.

“We want the infrastructure budget to be higher and we have fiscal space. We decided to augment or to add to the 480, 75 billion, not 51 billion…You cannot call that insertion because it’s part of the budget preparation process. There’s no insertion,” Diokno said.

Meanwhile, Buhay Party list Representative Lito Atienza asked Diokno to answer the allegations of Senator Panfilo Lacson on the alleged pork barrel of some congressmen particularly in the districts of House Speaker Gloria Arroyo and Andaya.

“Hindi po gumagawa ng ilegal itong kongreso na ito, tama po ba yun?” asked Atienza.

“Tama po iyon,” Diokno said.

“I accept his admission (that) this Congress has not committed any pork barrel violation. Therefore, Sen. Panfilo Lacson is way off  the mark and the allegations in media are not true,” Atienza concluded.

In the end, Diokno insisted that President Duterte is aware of the additional infrastructure budget.

He also denied any conflict of interests in the performance of his duty as Budget Secretary.

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez accused Diokno of influencing the approval of about P2.8 billion worth of infra projects in Casiguran and Sorsogon for the reason that Diokno’s daughter is an in-law of Sorsogon Vice Governor Ester Hamor and Casiguran Mayor Edwin Hamor.

“Let me tell you, your honor. I’ve served three presidents. I am known for my integrity. I have no relatives, no friends, as far as public affairs are concerned. That’s my reputation. That’s why they call me ‘Dr. No.’ So I don’t know what your questions are all about,” Diokno told Suarez. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Casin)

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Who gets the biggest chunk in the 2019 Nat’l Budget? Arroyo says, ‘Not me!’

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

House Speaker Gloria Arroyo

QUEZON CITY, Philippines – House Speaker Gloria Arroyo vehemently denied allegations that she gets the biggest chunk of the proposed 2019 National Budget.

Reports said Arroyo’s second district of Pampanga has given the biggest budget allocation of P2.4-B for next year.

“The two allegations that I wanted to check is that (they say) I cornered it? No! The second allegation is (because) they were my allies? No! The previous leadership of the house have bigger, multiple of the budget of my district,” the House Speaker defended.

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya came in support of Arroyo saying of all the congressmen, Arroyo places 60th among solons with highest budget allocation. Andaya comes 110th.

Instead, Arroyo and Andaya point at the former House speaker as the recipient of the highest amount of fund.

“As approved by 3rd reading, the number recipient would still be former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez’s district with around P5 -billion; former Majority Leader Fariñas with P3.5-billion and the former chairman of the Committee on Appropriations Carlo Nograles with P4-billion,” Andaya said.

But Rep. Rudy Fariñas explained that he knew nothing about the budget allocation for his district since he joined the minority right after President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent state of the nation address (SONA).

“I don’t know the allocation for my district but everything listed therein was in the NEP submitted by the President. I left the Majority two days after the SONA when I joined the Minority, and there is no way I could have added anything to it,” he said.

“I did not attend any budget hearing since then as I was on medical leave starting Sep. 15 when I suffered injuries from Typhoon Ompong,” he argued.

Nevertheless, Fariñas said, it is not surprising if he gets a big amount of fund considering that his district maintains the longest national highway in the country.

“But I will not be surprised if the amount is accurate since my district has one of the longest national highways in the country from Laoag to the boundary of Cagayan province. The bridge alone for the Laoag-Bacarra bypass road is about P1B (multi-year allocations),” Fariñas explained.

Andaya said he already wrote to the President to explain matters regarding the issues surrounding the 2019 proposed national budget and to show to the President the actual budget allocation for each of the congressmen.

Andaya noted, however, that they are still solving the problem as to who approved the P51-billion pesos infrastructure ‘parked fund’ that was inserted for the districts of Sorsogon and Catanduanes.

But even the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the representatives of the two districts cannot explain how the said amount was inserted in their budget allocation.

“Yesterday we had a meeting with Usec Cabral, the Head of Planning mismo ng DPWH. Siya ang nagpa plano kung ano ang ilalagay sa budget. She still at this point in time and the official stand of the secretary they do not know anything about the P51B,” Andaya said.

Andaya said it is only the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) under Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno can explain everything about this as they are the ones who prepare the proposed national budget.

Meanwhile, Alvarez and Nograles are yet to respond on the matter. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Casin)

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Solons summon Diokno over budget insertions

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Monday, December 10th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno

MANILA, Philippines – House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez has asked Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to attend the ‘question hour’ at the House of Representatives (HOR) to shed light on the issue of ‘pork barrel’ or budget insertions in the proposed 2019 General Appropriations Act.

In a resolution approved by the plenary, Suarez said they have invited Diokno to HOR on Tuesday (December 11) so that all congressmen would have the chance to ask questions regarding the 2019 national budget.

“Issues regarding budget insertions arise, thereby raising the possibility of having a re-enacted budget for 2019,” Suarez said.

Questions have popped up when Senator Panfilo Lacson disclosed that at least P2.4B was allegedly added to the budget for the second district of Pampanga that is under House Speaker Gloria Arroyo.

Suarez confirmed that the HOR has already sent an invitation to Diokno. They asked the Budget Secretary to bring all necessary documents including disbursement receipts, releasing and office memos for government agencies to aide the inquiry.

Diokno, however, is yet to confirm his attendance.

The ‘question hour’ is in accordance with Section 22, Article 6 of the 1987 Constitution. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Grace Casin)

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