Credit to Author: clopez| Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2019 21:46:54 +0000
Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno did not notify the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) that P75 billion was added to its budget for 2019, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said on Wednesday.
At the Meet Inquirer Multimedia forum, Villar reiterated that the DPWH had submitted a P484-billion expenditure plan for this year.
The amount, he said, was the “budget ceiling” set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the DPWH, and was nearly 25 percent lower than its original request.
It was the first time that the public works secretary spoke about the matter, which became public after Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. accused Diokno of orchestrating the “insertion.”
Diokno described the additional funding as an “adjustment,” a common practice in the government’s budgeting system.
Speaking of the facts
“I’d rather speak of the facts … If there [is] any adjustment [in the budget], it was not within our knowledge at the time,” Villar said as he clarified one of the issues that precipitated the delay in the approval of the P3.8-trillion draft national spending bill for 2019.
“We asked for a ceiling. Then the (DBM) gave us P484 billion. Based on that, we created our [expenditure] program. That’s it,” he told editors and reporters of the Inquirer’s media platforms.
Villar said he came to know about the extra funding when the DBM released the National Expenditure Program (NEP), which President Duterte submitted to the House of Representatives in July 2018.
“I saw the adjustment when the NEP came up just like with the other departments,” he said.
Villar’s admission seemed to support Andaya’s claim that the budget secretary had arbitrarily appended the funding without informing the department.
The public works chief, however, maintained that there was nothing wrong in Diokno’s decision.
“We only submit recommendations to the DBM. They can either add or subtract [items] in our draft. That’s the budgetary process. Ultimately, that becomes the NEP,” Villar said.
The public spat between Andaya, who relinquished his post as House majority leader on Monday, and Diokno over the extra DPWH funds led to a House inquiry into the DBM’s alleged irregular budgeting scheme./ac