House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. expects Diokno to honor their invitation and shed light on vital documents that show the Aremar Construction of his in-laws used Bulacan-based contractor CT Leoncio as a dummy to corner big-ticket projects.
Geremy Pintolo/File
House resumes flood fund probe
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 21, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The joint rules and public accounts committees of the House of Representatives resume today their investigation on the multibillion-peso flood fund scam, where the alleged beneficiaries were the in-laws of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno. 

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. expects Diokno to honor their invitation and shed light on vital documents that show the Aremar Construction of his in-laws used Bulacan-based contractor CT Leoncio as a dummy to corner big-ticket projects. 

“For the third time, we are inviting Diokno to appear as resource person in the investigation being conducted regarding (the Department of Budget and Management’s) questionable allocations and practices. We hope he will reconsider his earlier decision not to appear in the House investigation,” Andaya said. 

The Camarines Sur lawmaker said the DBM secretary “should be man enough to explain the anomalous allocations and questionable practices, which the House panel uncovered in the course of the investigation.”  

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez warned that he would sign a subpoena if Diokno will continue to refuse to honor their invitation.

The Cabinet secretary was forced to appear in the House’s December 2018 “Question Hour” but hinted that he would refuse future invitations. 

A paper trail, complete with five deposit slips from Land Bank of the Philippines, showed Aremar – whose owners are the Hamor political clan in Sorsogon, the in-laws of Diokno’s daughter Charlotte Justine – got P81 million from dummy contractors who won the bid. 

“Instead of sending his undersecretary and other senior DBM officials for grilling by congressmen, Diokno should be the one doing the explaining. He is the top decision maker in the department and the buck stops with him,” Andaya said. 

The House official also wants Diokno to shed light on his admission in media interviews that the DBM awarded and implemented projects worth around P200 billion. 

“As we conduct our next hearing, we will even show that the DBM earned billions from these anomalous transactions. All the money is unaccounted for according to (the Commission on Audit). Now we have half the truth. We just need to chip away at the half lie,” Andaya warned. 

Diokno, who issued a blanket denial in media, said he was advised by the “executive department” to decline any House invitation, but refused to say who told him to ignore the investigation. 

Another DBM-related anomaly that Andaya wants clarified was the agency’s procurement of a whopping P37 billion for consultants, saying it has also “morphed into a one-stop mega mall where consultants can bid for billions of pesos in contracts.” 

“Documents now in possession of the House rules committee show that for 2018 alone, the DBM-procurement service was responsible for bidding more than P37 billion in government contracts for consultants,” the House leader revealed. 

The biggest contract, worth P14.3 billion, is for “Project Management Consultancy” for the PNR South Long Haul Project of the North-South Railway Project, which was awarded on Oct. 31, 2018.

Coming second was P11.7 billion as “general consultancy” for Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1 (Valenzuela-Parañaque) and was awarded at around the same period or in Oct. 18, 2018.

The third and last was general consultancy worth P11.7 billion for the Metro Manila Subway Project Phase 1 and was awarded along the same period on Oct. 31, 2018.

The P37-billion contracts for consultants were part of the P168-billion fund that the Department of Transportation obligated to the DBM-procurement service for bidding purposes.

The documents on the multibillion contracts bidded out by DBM were turned over to the House rules committee when the executive director of DBM-procurement service, Bingle Gutierrez, testified at the House hearing on Jan. 15.

“Contracts at the DBM seem to be like a mega mall. Not only contractors and suppliers line up for these, even consultants do so. This is quite alarming,” Andaya said. 

BENJAMIN DIOKNO FLOOD FUND SCAM HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
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