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Nograles defends Diokno: Cabinet does not resort to bribing

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Nograles defends Diokno: Cabinet does not resort to bribing
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said President Rodrigo Duterte still trusts Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno despite many allegations hurled against him.
The STAR / Boy Santos, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles defended Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno from allegations of bribery during a Malacañang press conference on Friday. 

“We in the Cabinet and certainly in the administration of President [Rodrigo] Duterte —  we don't resort to things like bribing,” he said.

The House earlier subpoenaed the DBM chief to Friday's hearing. 

The subpoena, signed by Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and committee chairman Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr., states that “failure to comply with this order is subject to penalty under the law.”

READ: Benjamin Diokno to attend House probe on budget  

Nograles, a former Davao City representative, was appointed Cabinet secretary last November, replacing Jun Evasco, who is running for governor of Bohol in the upcoming midterm elections. 

READ: Davao Rep. Nograles is new Cabinet secretary

“The president trusts and believes in Diokno. He has full faith and confidence in [him]. He leaves it up to Diokno to do what is necessary and right in the matter of spending in his office,” he added.

Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr (Camarines Sur) on Friday accused Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno of attempting to "bribe" lawmakers for them to keep silent over alleged irregularities in the 2019 budget.

The House Appropriations Committee Chairman accused Diokno of offering P40 billion to “shut up” about the alleged insertions in the national budget for 2019 amounting to some P70 billion.

Diokno, who declined appearing in previous House probes, skipped Friday's congressional probe. The Budget chief has sought for a reschedule of hearing, citing that officials of his department have the right to proper notice and “a fair and just hearing.”

He said the subpoena was only received by the DBM 11 a.m. of Thursday morning with the hearing scheduled the next day, Friday at 10 a.m.

Despite Diokno’s absence, the Budget department on Friday submitted to the House panel copies of the documents being subpoenaed for its “perusal and reference.”

“Whatever is the real purpose of the House in calling me, I will appear in Congress. However, I take my duty to the people very seriously,” Diokno said.

The last time Diokno appeared in the House to answer questions over alleged budget insertions, Malacañang spokesperson Salvador Panelo and other Cabinet officials called out the line of questioning as “disrespectful.”

"I have witnessed the disrespect and utter lack of courtesy displayed by members of the House of Representatives towards Department of Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno," the letter signed by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez in December read. 

READ: Cabinet secretaries slam House resolution calling for Diokno’s firing

Andaya is leading a House investigation into an alleged flood control scam, which he accuses Diokno of being behind. 

The DBM denied accusations of lawmakers before and the Palace has reiterated on several occasions that they support Diokno.

READ: DBM denies existence of alleged P332-B flood fund scam

“The president trusts and believes in Diokno. He has full faith and confidence in [him]. He leaves it up to Diokno to do what is necessary and right in the matter of spending in his office,” Nograles said.

But he said the charges “are very serious” and they expect the Budget chief to answer the questions. — Ryan Macasero

ANDAYA DBM DIOKNO MALACANANG NOGRALES
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