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THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - December 17, 2018 - 12:00am

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. claims to have documents to show that Budget Secretary Diokno’s in-laws and the so-called "favorite contractor" of the Palace were partners in projects of up to P550 million. The projects are included in the P10 billion allocated into the DPWH budget for Sorsogon. But the hearings on the budget controversy will be in January of next year. So the House and the public will have to wait until then to see these documents.

 

But many have put their wagons in a circle for Diokno. Diokno, now emboldened by those defending him, has stated he will no longer attend the House hearings since he was “disrespected” and ambushed. But what is wrong with asking about all these insertions, if only to find out if corruption, or at the very least to find out if there is indeed a “favorite contractor,” or a favored region? A region under the leadership of Diokno's in-laws. Does "conflict of interest" mean nothing to this administration? If Diokno believes he did nothing wrong, why avoid the hearings? With many coming to his defense, he has nothing to worry about. Or is there?

It also seems Senator Lacson is not done exposing anomalies in the budget. Lacson disclosed a supposed “parking system” with regards to the budget or “pork.” A staff of a well-connected senator would offer funds to those with little or no funds for their projects, in exchange for choosing the contractor. The funds are in effect “parked” into different lawmakers to avoid scrutiny. I assume the staff or the senator, if he is involved, gets a cut somewhere. Lacson has not yet disclosed the senator's staff offering the funds. I think he should name the staff member, but in the right forum. If the Congress has a hearing this January, then he may disclose both the scheme and the people behind it.

The issue of "pork" does not seem to go away, even if it is already deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. It seems that there is still a loophole lawmakers take advantage of, or just cannot resist dipping their fingers into. We are talking millions, if not billions of pesos. If the previous administration's PDAF is always criticized, with cases being filed against previous officials, what are these so-called controversies now called? We will see if the truth comes out in January. But since Congress is generally allied with the administration, the issue just might go away. The opposition has very little voice in Congress, so they will most likely not be heard, or even noticed, possibly ignored. If the Palace is still confident in Diokno, what can Congress do but accept all his explanations? The “favorite contractor” might just walk away with all the projects, the in-laws protected and the schemes continue.

ROLANDO ANDAYA JR
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