President Rodrigo R. Duterte is proud of his Cabinet and continues to believe in each one of them, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Saturday.
Andanar made this remark a day after the President hosted a party for members of the Cabinet on Friday night.
“He spoke a little about [Budget] Secretary Ben Diokno, what happened in the Congress, then he explained and reminded us that he is proud of his present Cabinet,” Andanar said in Filipino in a radio interview.
Duterte also reminded them about refraining from engaging in corrupt activities, and said he was happy to work with each of his Cabinet members, Andanar said.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Diokno still enjoys the trust and confidence of the President after the House of Representatives adopted a resolution urging him to reconsider the Budget chief’s appointment.
Diokno was accused of being responsible for the alleged P75 billion worth of “insertions” contained in the P3.757-trillion proposed national budget for 2019 without the President’s consent.
He was also accused of having links to CT Leoncio Construction and Trading, a contractor that bagged billions of pesos worth of government projects, an allegation which he denied.
Panelo also said that at least eight Cabinet members threw their support behind Diokno and slammed the House members for their display of “disrespect and utter lack of courtesy” toward Diokno during the recent Question Hour.
“To use the congressional process to bombard Secretary Diokno with pre-considered questions and answers in aid—not of legislation—but of persecution and excoriating him with baseless allegations is a mockery of standard democratic procedures,” they said in their letter submitted to the President.
Panelo said despite Diokno’s denial, the executive branch will still investigate the allegations, and said there will be no sacred cows.
“Secretary Diokno has already denied any involvement or any link. But let me repeat what we have said: 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.
Palace ally Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Ray Villafuerte on Sunday said the allegations against Diokno were absurd.
“Ben Diokno has earned the monicker ‘Mr. No’ for firmly turning down proposals tinged with even just a hint of illegality. His integrity is beyond doubt and his track record in government is exceptional,” he said in a statement.
He said Diokno has introduced several reforms to ensure the efficient and transparent use of government resources in his stints at the Department of Budget and Management.
“His ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get” policy implemented during the Estrada administration enhanced transparency in, and simplified the budgeting process,” he added.
In the Duterte administration, he introduced cash-based budgeting to instill fiscal discipline among government agencies and to increase their absorptive capacity, Villafuerte said.
“This is an effective response to the perennial complaint of lawmakers regarding the low absorptive capacity of government agencies whenever we conduct hearings on the national budget,” he said. With PNA
READ: Rody’s wish list for Cabinet: Competent, honest people