Andaya grills Diokno over 2019 budget 'insertion'

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 12 2018 12:10 AM

MANILA - House Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. grilled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Tuesday over alleged "insertions" in the proposed 2019 national budget. 

Andaya, who was budget secretary during the term of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, asked Diokno to explain the "insertion" of P51 billion worth of projects in budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Andaya said, even President Rodrigo Duterte was not aware of the P51 billion that was added to the DPWH budget. 

"The President told me, since it's the president's budget, he had nothing to do with it. And that I should ask you (Diokno) and that he asked who were the big recipients of the budget and I showed him. You know what he told me, 'do your job,'" Andaya said during the budget chief's appearance at the House of Representatives today. 

Andaya said DPWH Secretary Mark Villar was also not aware of the alleged insertions. 

Diokno, however maintained that there was nothing anomalous with the amount added to the DPWH budget. 

He said the DPWH requested a budget of P652 billion for 2019, but the administration approved only P480 billion. But since the government wanted the infrastructure budget to be higher, the DPWH's 2019 appropriation was "augmented." 

"We decided to augment or to add to the P480 billion another P75 billion, not P51 billion, for a total of P555 billion. You cannot call that insertion because that's part of the process," Diokno said.

Andaya on Monday said the 2019 national budget was "rushed" and vowed increased scrutiny by the House of proposed allocations next year.