During Tuesday’s House Question Hour on the budget, the budget secretary admitted that his in-laws are from Sorsogon, but that they do not talk about his job and projects when they meet. They receive no favor from him, House of Representatives Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. stressed.
KJ Rosales/File
Diokno in-laws bag P550 million infra projects — Andaya
Jess Diaz (The Philippine Star) - December 16, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — In-laws of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno in Sorsogon have bagged infrastructure projects worth more than half a billion pesos in the province this year, House of Representatives Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said yesterday.

“We have yet to start our formal investigation on the questionable multi-billion allocation by Secretary Diokno for Sorsogon, but this early, it is clear that P550-million projects have found their way to his in-laws,” he said.

During Tuesday’s House Question Hour on the budget, the budget secretary admitted that his in-laws are from Sorsogon, but that they do not talk about his job and projects when they meet. They receive no favor from him, he stressed.

Andaya said Mayor Edwin Hamor is the father of Jojo, the husband of a daughter of the budget secretary, while the mayor’s wife, Ester, is vice governor of the province.

He noted that Mayor Hamor has admitted in a television interview that his children own a construction company and may know the controversial CT Leoncio Construction and Trading.

“Apparently, they not only know CT Leoncio but have entered into a joint venture with the said company, which cornered a chunk of the P10 billion allocated by the Department of Budget and Management for Sorsogon in the 2018 national budget,” Andaya added.

He revealed that based on documents obtained by the House, Maria Minez Hamor, a daughter of the Hamors, owns Aremar Construction Corp., which has partnered with CT Leoncio for several projects.

These include the P49-million highway improvement for Aruman-Casiguran Road, P96-million construction of Barcelona-Casiguran diversion road, P115-million tourism road leading to Bulusan National Park and the P289-million Daang Maharlika section in the 1st District of Sorsogon, he said.

“These projects alone cost taxpayers a total of P550 million. These do not include projects cornered by Aremar Construction,” he said.

Andaya, a former budget secretary, renewed his appeal for Diokno “not to drag President Duterte into this mess.”

“The President has already spoken. He has no hand in the identification of infrastructure projects inserted by the DBM in the national budget. The identification of projects and disbursement of budget allocations is the work of his Cabinet. We in Congress believe that the President is not in any way involved in this process,” he said.

Duterte has reiterated his trust in Diokno amid the controversy on budget insertions and the huge allocations for Sorsogon.

The budget chief said the President made the reiteration when he met with him on Thursday.

He said Duterte also repeated his instruction to him not to release funds from Road Board fund collections.

“As we all know, the Road Board is the cash cow of lawmakers who want me out,” he said.

Several Cabinet members have rallied behind their embattled colleague and have accused the House of violating the constitutional principle of separation of powers in calling on the President to fire his budget secretary. Duterte has rejected such call.

Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said Diokno should not feel slighted and disrespected by the questioning he had to endure during Tuesday’s Question Hour.

“He should not be onion-skinned. We’re elected members of Congress. We’re accountable to our constituents as to where their taxes go. When we make Secretary Diokno account for the budget, we’re asking on behalf of more than 100 million Filipinos whose future and well-being rely on the judicious use of public funds,” he said.

He maintained that respect is “earned, not a privilege.”

“It was Secretary Diokno who drew first blood when he said the current House leadership got huge allocations when he, along with former speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his allies received much, much more in unexplained budget insertions,” he added. 

BENJAMIN DIOKNO INFRA PROJECTS
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