Former House majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr. – now on his third and last term as congressman of the first district of Camarines Sur – has taken over the chairmanship of the powerful House committee on appropriations.
Michael Varcas
Rolando Andaya Jr. quits as majority leader, heads appropriations
Delon Porcalla (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The key official of the House of Representatives who spearheaded the probe on the alleged flood fund scam and budget insertions of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno resigned from his post yesterday, but took another post in the chamber.

Former House majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr. – now on his third and last term as congressman of the first district of Camarines Sur – has taken over the chairmanship of the powerful House committee on appropriations.

Andaya endorsed as his replacement House Deputy Speaker Fred Castro, a veteran legislator from Capiz, who readily accepted. Castro heads the National Unity Party which has allied itself with the super majority coalition in the chamber.

The appropriations committee was previously held by former Davao City congressman Karlo Alexei Nograles – son of former speaker Prospero Nograles – who was appointed Secretary to the Cabinet by President Duterte in November.

In a speech delivered at the plenary, Andaya said Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, under whose presidency he served as budget minister, accepted his resignation and has given him the go-signal in shepherding the passage of the stalled 2019 national budget.

“I have been given orders: from the (general headquarters) to the frontlines. I volunteered for this mission, knowing fully well that the place of honor is in the frontlines,” Andaya said, as if serving notice to Diokno that perceived anomalies won’t go unnoticed.

Andaya made a motion in the plenary, which was approved by lawmakers, that the probe of the joint rules and public accounts committee into the multibillion-peso flood fund scam will be turned over to and taken over by the House appropriations committee.

He also warned that they would not “pass a budget marinated in flood control funds, or drowning in DBM-inserted infrastructure projects that the Department of Public Works and Highways remains clueless about.”

“We cannot be casual or cavalier about the most important bill the Constitution assigns us to pass annually,” he said. “If we choose the path of surrender and subservience, then such legislative haste would have surely led to budgetary waste.”

“If transparency and accountability in the (General Appropriations Act) will be my only legacy as House leader, so be it,” he declared. “I will push for full transparency in the bicam deliberations. If need be, I will propose televised proceedings of the bicameral conference.”

Andaya urged those who propose funds for projects and programs come out in the open to defend their positions.

“If you have a project or program to push for, stand up for it and defend it. The time for finger-pointing is over,” he warned.

This developed as Andaya yesterday accused Diokno anew of another “insertion” by revising the implementing rules and regulations of the Government Procurement Reform Act to allegedly transform the DBM into a “super-bidding body.”

“Not just in the NEP (National Expenditure Program) that the DBM has insertions. There are also inserted provisions in the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) of RA 9184,” he said, referring to the Government Procurement Act, which he co-authored.

Andaya lamented that in 2016, Diokno amended the IRR of the law where it exclusively allows the bidding done only by the agency where the appropriation in the national budget is allocated.

Based on documents turned over by DBM-Procurement Service executive director Bingle Gutierrez, Andaya said the government would spend P37 billion to pay the consultants of big-ticket infrastructure projects that Diokno bidded out last year.

Malacañang distanced itself from Andaya’s decision to step down as House majority leader and demanded that he stop waging what it described as a “media propaganda war” against Diokno.

“The executive has nothing to do with the political intramurals happening in the House of Representatives. We respect its independence, including its internal rules and affairs,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

“Now that Camarines Sur 1st District Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. formally yielded his post, we call on him to cease from waging a media propaganda war to besmirch the image and reputation of a member of the Cabinet before the court of public opinion,” he added.

Panelo said Andaya should just go to court if he has problems with Diokno. Panelo also wished Castro luck and expressed optimism that the relationship between the executive and Congress would be better under his watch.

Senate OKs 2019 budget

As this developed, the Senate yesterday approved the proposed P3.7-trillion national budget for 2019 after making several realignments of alleged insertions to programs of government agencies.

Voting 14-0, senators passed the 2019 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) on second, third and final reading in just one session as the measure was certified as urgent by President Duterte.

The Senate and the House of Representatives are expected to start meeting today or anytime this week through the bicameral conference committee to reconcile conflicting provisions of their respective versions of the GAB, and come up with a final version that Duterte can sign into law in the first week of February.

Before the approval, senators found what they said were insertions or appropriations in the budgets of the Departments of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Interior and Local Government (DILG) amounting to over P100 billion.

Diokno confirmed the amounts – P75 billion for the DPWH and P28 billion for the DILG – as additional appropriations.

For other departments and government agencies, the Senate moved around a total of P206 billion in appropriations among agencies for programs lawmakers deemed important.

The Senate deducted some P88.7 billion from the House version of the GAB but added some P117.7 billion for various agencies that resulted in the chamber passing a slightly higher budget for departments.

The differing provisions made lawmakers predict the bicameral conference committee proceedings would be difficult.

Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the finance committee, presented the list of amendments before moving for the GAB’s passage.

Among the amendments approved were the additional funding for the construction of the new Senate building, the social and anti-poverty programs of the Office of the Vice President and farm-to-market roads and fisherman’s wharf under the Department of Agriculture.

Included in the budget of the Department of Health is the restoration of P16.796 billion for Health Facilities Enhancement Program and the provision of P4.797 billion for the Human Resource for Health Development, pushed by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito. – With Alexis Romero, Paolo Romero, Czeriza Valencia

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with