Name names, Diokno dares Andaya

Secretary Benjamin Diokno. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno on Wednesday dared House appropriations committee chairman Rolando Andaya Jr. to name the “high-ranking government official” who allegedly received kickbacks from contractors who supposedly were awarded contracts in advance under the P75-billion in “pork” in the 2019 national budget.

Diokno issued the challenge to the lawmaker from Camarines Sur after the latter claimed an official, whom he did not name, returned some P200-million in “kickbacks” for infrastructure projects included in the budget allocated for the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The solon also said some “favored contractors” expressed disappointment that their “cash advances” were “put to naught” after both chambers of Congress decided to scrap the P75 billion in proposed national budget for the year.

House Majority Leader and Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. (PTV Photo)

“It is his duty to name the high-profile government official he mentioned who advanced his own funds to a contractor because of expected commissions,” Diokno said.

He also noted that while early procurement activities were “not new,” the budget chief warned that advance payments or commissions are strictly considered as acts of graft. Such practice, according to Diokno, started in 2009 during the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Andaya then as DBM secretary.

He also said that reputable contractors would not resort to giving cash advances.

“I do not know what the practice was when Andaya was Budget secretary but under our watch, advance payments of commissions are considered illegal. Such practices are not, and will not be, condoned by the Duterte administration,” Diokno stated.

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