Diokno escapes, Andaya furious

House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. on Wednesday slammed Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno for purportedly not honoring his mantra on “duty first before leisure.”

READ: Andaya to prove Diokno insertions

Andaya said Diokno had “escaped” to the United States despite Thursday’s scheduled congressional hearing on P75 billion of insertions in the national budget.

“He’s left. Secretary Diokno is in the United States. How can we invite him [to the hearing]?” Andaya said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Andaya said Diokno is the main resource person in the congressional probe initiated by House leaders, and yet he has evaded lawmakers by not attending the congressional hearing.

“What happened to his ‘job first before leisure’ statement? His presence is very important to shed light on his questionable practices in the budget process. For the sake of transparency and accountability, he should explain and come clean,” Andaya, chairman of the House committee on rules, said.

Earlier, Diokno told lawmakers to practice “duty first before leisure” to pass the national budget before Dec. 31, 2018 to avoid a reenacted budget.

“They have until the end of the year [2018], December 31st. They can work holidays, you know. In the US they work on Saturdays and Sundays. So as I’ve said, duty first before leisure,” Diokno was quoted as saying.

Diokno denied any irregularity on the issues raised against him concerning the budget process.

Despite Diokno’s absence, Andaya said his panel will proceed its congressional inquiry on the budget controversies, including the alleged flood control scam and other anomalous transactions involving multibillion-peso infrastructure projects at the expense of people’s money.

“We will proceed with the probe despite his absence. It’s his loss, not ours,” Andaya said of Diokno.

The congressional inquiry will start at 10 in the morning this Thursday at the Avenue Plaza Hotel, Magsaysay Avenue, Naga City.

Among the House members who are expected to attend are House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, senior House Deputy Majority Leader and 1SAGIP Party-list Rep. Rodante Marcoleta, COOP NATCCO Party-list Rep. Anthony Bravo and Ako Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin, Jr.

The Andaya panel has already issued subpoenas to the owner of Diokno’s alleged favored contractor C.T. Leoncio Construction and several Department of Public Works and Highways’ officials to shed light on various budget controversies.

READ: Diokno in-laws linked to pork

Among those subpoenaed for today’s hearing, according to Andaya, were Consolacion Leoncio, owner of C.T. Leoncio; and DPWH officials Virgilio Eduarte, Danilo Verzola, Ignacio Odiaman, Wilfredo Flores, Larry Reyes, Merla Raveche, Jorge Gorimbao, Victor Azupardo, Gil Augustus Balmadrid, Noland Claro Guerrero; Malou Lacuna, Renato de Vera, and Elenita Tan.

Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano called on Diokno to cooperate with lawmakers to find out “who the real culprits behind these multibillion [peso] insertions are.”

“An investigation is deemed proper since we are talking about the people’s money. Secretary Diokno, being the Budget chief, is most fitting to answer these allegations,” he said.

Alejano said Diokno “should see the process as an integral part of promoting transparency and accountability in the government” in light of the anti-corruption campaign of the present administration.

READ: House tells Diokno: Resign

Topics: Rolando Andaya Jr , Benjamin Diokno , Gary Alejano , Danilo Suarez , Rodante Marcoleta , Anthony Bravo , Alfredo Garbin
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