MANILA -- House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rolando Andaya Jr on Friday accused Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno of attempting to "bribe" lawmakers for them to keep silent over alleged irregularities in the 2019 budget.
Diokno, according to Andaya, "offered the house P40 billion for us to shut up about the P75 billion insertions." Andaya said the budget chief told him that the money would come from savings in the 2018 budget.
The budget secretary, who has denied wrongdoing, skipped Friday's hearing at the House of Representatives led by Andaya. Reacting to the allegation, Diokno said: "False, once more!"
"Secretary Diokno tried to buy our cooperation," Andaya said.
Questions over alleged insertions in the 2019 General Appropriations Act have delayed its passage and government has been running on a reenacted budget since January.
The Senate and the House only have until Friday to pass a bicameral committee report on the budget before lawmakers go on break for the May midterm elections.
Addressing Diokno, Andaya said: "If you can offer to buy us out, to bribe us for our silence, and as to the amount, I’m only saying half the truth -- there’s a bigger amount involved, but it might involve another institution."
"So let Sec. Diokno talk first and react to my statement and I will follow through with the other half of the information," he said.
Diokno will be cited in contempt for snubbing Friday's hearing, Andaya said.