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P300-million pork misuse bared

House leader tags ex-Cabinet official in illegal scheme

House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. on Sunday said a former Cabinet official seeking an elective post has allegedly parked at least P300 million in infrastructure projects in the national budget.

Andaya, House committee on rules chairperson, said a mayor from Region 5 had told him over the weekend that the former Cabinet official—who he did not name—was responsible for parking the funds in flood mitigation projects for the region.

He said the mayor, who requested anonymity, said other local government executives wanted to speak to Andaya too to shed light on the budget funds.

The House rules committee will begin its investigation of the budget anomalies on Jan. 3 next year.

“We will include these allegations in our investigation,” Andaya said.

The parking scheme allegedly facilitated by the Budget department could explain the huge increase allocated to flood mitigation projects from 2017 to 2018, Andaya said.

The budget stood at P79 billion in 2017 but ballooned to P133 billion in 2018, he said.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday said the issues hounding the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019 is an indication of the government’s failure to lay it out properly but Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he remains confident that it will be signed by the President before the end of January.

READ: Diokno in-laws linked to pork

The Senate failed to approve the proposed budget before Congress adjourned for the Christmas break.

Earlier, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said that P75 billion was inserted into the 2019 allocation for the Department of Public Works and Highways, not P51 billion as was previously reported.

While Diokno said these were not illegal insertions, Andaya said the DPWH did not know about these funds, and that President Rodrigo Duterte had “nothing to do with it.”

Drilon said Diokno should be able to explain this.

Sotto, meanwhile, said he was sure his colleagues would tackle allocations of the remaining departments by Jan. 14.

Until then, the government would have to operate on a reenacted budget, he said.

Sotto reiterated that the delay in the budget’s approval was not the Senate’s fault, because the House did not submit its draft until Dec. 1.

Sotto blamed the delays on the change in leadership in the House, which in turn caused changes in committee memberships and leaderships.

READ: House tells Diokno: Resign

Topics: Rolando Andaya Jr. , national budget , Benjamin Diokno , Vicente Sotto III
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