House re­sumes flood con­trol fund probe

The Philippine Star - - NEWS - By DELON POR­CALLA – With Paolo Romero

The joint com­mit­tee of rules and pub­lic ac­counts of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives will re­sume to­day its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the al­leged multi­bil­lion­peso flood con­trol fund scam.

House Ma­jor­ity Leader Rolando An­daya Jr., rules com­mit­tee chair­man, will re­open the probe with the pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee of House Mi­nor­ity Leader Danilo Suarez to look into the re­ported in­ser­tions of Bud­get Sec­re­tary Ben­jamin Dio­kno in the 2019 na­tional bud­get.

“We ex­pect full co­op­er­a­tion and full dis­clo­sure from those in­vited to the hear­ing as they will be tes­ti­fy­ing un­der oath,” An­daya, who rep­re­sents Ca­marines Sur, said as he sent in­vi­ta­tions to Dio­kno, his daugh­ter Char­lotte Jus­tine and their in-laws, the Hamors of Sor­so­gon.

Char­lotte is mar­ried to Romeo Si­cat Jr., son of Vice Gov. Es­ther Hamor and step­son of her mayor-hus­band Ed­win of Casig­u­ran town in Sor­so­gon, the 15-mu­nic­i­pal­ity prov­ince that be­came re­cip­i­ent of P10.5 bil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture projects from the na­tional gov­ern­ment.

Dio­kno con­firmed the al­lo­ca­tion for Sor­so­gon, in­clud­ing the P395 mil­lion in flood­con­trol funds for Casig­u­ran, which An­daya said is “un­der no threat of flood­ing for the next 25 years,” but clar­i­fied that other Bi­col prov­inces have also been al­lo­cated sig­nif­i­cant fund­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the Cab­i­net of­fi­cial, Al­bay had the high­est al­lo­ca­tion of P11.2 bil­lion in 2018, fol­lowed by Sor­so­gon’s P10.5 bil­lion, closely fol­lowed by Ca­marines Sur at P10.2 bil­lion, Mas­bate at P4.5 bil­lion, Ca­marines Norte at P3.3 bil­lion and Catan­d­u­anes at P2.5 bil­lion.

The joint com­mit­tee also sent sub­poe­nas to other DBM of­fi­cials as well as those of the Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works and High­ways (DPWH), Bureau of In­ter­nal Rev­enue and the Anti-Money Laun­der­ing Coun­cil.

“We ex­pect to be pro­vided with doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence that could shed light on the anoma­lous bud­get prac­tices of the DBM (Depart­ment of Bud­get and Man­age­ment) and ques­tion­able al­lo­ca­tions for DPWH, which we un­cov­ered dur­ing the pre­vi­ous hear­ing. This is the proper fo­rum for our se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials to air their side on the is­sues at hand. We will give them all the time needed to present their case. But we ex­pect spe­cific re­sponses to spe­cific is­sues. No gen­eral de­nials and hid­ing be­hind tech­ni­cal­i­ties,” An­daya said.

He added that they want an­swers on why bil­lions of pe­sos in flood con­trol projects were in­serted in the DPWH bud­get “with­out the knowl­edge of Sec­re­tary Mark Vil­lar.”

“A huge chunk of the flood­con­trol projects was al­lo­cated not to flood-prone ar­eas and danger zones, but to fa­vored ar­eas such as Casig­u­ran, Sor­so­gon which has no threat of flood­ing,” An­daya claimed.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.