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Bicam panel scraps Diokno’s P75B ‘insertion’ in DPWH budget for 2019, Andaya says

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By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN

The bicameral conference has unanimously voted to strike down the P75-billion worth of insertions initiated by Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno under the National Expenditure Program (NEP) for 2019, House Appropriations Committee chair Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr. said.

Andaya said there was “no P75-billion insertion to talk about this point in time” since the Senate and the House contingents in the Bicam decided to remove Diokno’s allocation in the final committee report of the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) which both Houses finally ratified last Friday evening.

“The Senate and the House panel have agreed to do away with that,” he said.

Andaya said the bicam panel decided to remove the additional P75-billion allotment for the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) since the source of the projects was “questionable” as revealed in during Friday morning’s inquiry over anomalous budget transaction of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Related story: Duwag pa rin! Andaya says Diokno should join sports body for running away from House probe

According to Andaya, two public works official allegedly acted as “fixers” and made a late minute ditch to place the multi-billion insertions under 2019 NEP when its final copy was already being printed around 4 a.m. sometime in July 2018.

The House official said it was a certain Glenn and Public Works Usec. Mina Pangandaman are the DPWH officials who acted as fixers and placed the P75-billion insertions in the final copy of the 2019 NEP.

“Dalawang fixer lang ang nag-usap, a certain Glenn in public works and Usec. (Mina) Pangandaman and the DBM. No other witness testified that they knew about it. Itong dalawang lang ang nagkutsabahan to do this, not unless Usec. Mina logically says na it was Sec. Diokno that ordered her, because I don’t see her acting on her own. She is a new appointee to the department,” he said.

Meanwhile, Public Works Usec. Catalina Cabral said the P75-billion infrastructure allotment added by Diokno in the 2019 budget of the DPWH was part of a normal budget process. The public works official stressed that DPWH Sec. Mark Villar was aware of the Diokno insertions but only after the proposed 2019 NEP was already submitted to Congress.

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