By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Buhay Party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said some members of the Duterte Cabinet were maneuvering in favor of a Cayetano Speakership to protect their budget insertions under the proposed 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP).
Atienza’s statement came after condemning the supposed meddling of some Cabinet secretaries to propel the speakership bid of Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano.
Atienza stressed certain Cabinet men wanted to put a strong ally as speaker to protect their budget insertions for “non-essential infrastructure projects” that were grossly overpriced yet unnecessary.
Atienza noted the discovery by congressmen of multi-million flood control projects funded under the 2017 and 2018 National Budget although these were to be implemented in areas safe from flooding.
The former Senior Deputy Minority Leader also recalled the discovery of so-called “Parked Pork Barrel Funds” reaching P75 billion under the 2019 NEP to finance infrastructure projects in congressional districts that supposedly do not have any immediate need for them.
Former Budget secretary and now Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Gov. Benjamin Diokno admitted last December that there were multi-billion worth budget insertions during the time of former House Speaker Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez when he was grilled during a question hour by then House Majority Floor Leader Rolando “Nonoy” Andaya Jr.
Atienza warned that these “Parked Funds” may be visible again due to the meddling of some Cabinet secretaries in the heavily contested speakership race especially that Congress is set to tackle the 2020 NEP immediately after President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22.
Atienza refused to name those cabinet members involved but Cayetano last month hosted a supposed budget-making seminar for neophyte lawmakers in Clark, Pampanga which was reportedly sponsored by several members of the Duterte Cabinet.
The Cabinet members include Finance Sec. Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez III, Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade, Public Work Sec. Mark Villar and top undersecretaries from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Atienza earlier blasted reports that some Cabinet members tried to convince the President to revive the term sharing between Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco. The proposal did not work out after Velasco backed out at the last minute, said Duterte.