"Is this what the DBM stands for now?"
Yesterday, the House of Representatives conducted the Question Hour with Department of Budget and Management Secretary Ben Diokno pursuant to House Resolution No. 2307 which I had filed. The House Resolution invited the DBM Secretary to clarify the alleged budgetary insertions and other irregularities and inconsistencies in the General Appropriations Bill for 2019.
The interpellation yesterday yielded several issues. First is that there is disproportionate budget allocation for the infrastructure projects in Sorsogon. These projects consist of construction of roads, flood mitigation structures, and access roads. Coincidentally or not, almost 90 percent of these projects were awarded to one construction firm. However, this construction firm is actually a sole proprietorship based in Bulacan—meaning just one person owns the whole company. What makes it more questionable is that the projects are worth roughly P3.5 billion in total. In a province with a population of 790,000 and area of 2,000 square kilometers, this amount is not commensurate. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that a single proprietor construction company in Bulacan be awarded with projects worth billions. Usually, such projects are awarded to triple A contractors.
Secretary Diokno also denied knowledge of the fact that his in-laws were running for public office in Sorsogon. Filipino families are well-known to be tightly-knit. Therefore, it is highly improbable that families do not disclose or even consult one another regarding big decisions, like running for public office. This denial of Secretary Diokno raises more questions.
I remain firm on my call for a transparent and factual budget. It is relevant to reiterate that 2019 is an election year. This highlights the importance of scrutinizing the budget to ensure that irregular and dubious insertions will not miss the keen eye of legislators. We, the Minority, shall continue our assessment of such allegations that cast serious doubt on the disbursement of public funds.