• 02/22/2019
  • 12:22 AM
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DIOKNO COUNTS ON ‘FRIENDLIER’ CONGRESS AFTER 2019 MID-TERM POLLS



MANILA -- Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said he is looking forward to a “friendlier” Congress after next year’s mid-term elections.

Diokno made this remark amid the ongoing dispute between him and some lawmakers in the House of Representatives after the former was grilled on alleged “insertions” in the proposed 2019 budget and his alleged favoring a contractor.

Diokno earlier bared that the government is currently at risk of operating under a reenacted budget, at least for the first quarter of 2019.

Diokno warned that a reenacted budget will be “detrimental to the economic growth and development objectives of the Duterte administration” since no new infrastructure project can start.

Moreover, salary adjustments for civilian and military personnel that are programmed for 2019 will be delayed.

Asked if he sees the same problem recurring in future budgets, Diokno expressed hope that the current delays in the proposed 2019 budget will be the last one.

“I’m hopeful na hindi na siya mangyayari, kasi (that it will no longer happen because) there’s going to be a new Congress ‘di ba, may eleksyon tayo eh (we will be having an election),” Diokno said in a Palace briefing on Wednesday.

“So the midterm, there will be a new Congress, hopefully much friendlier than this one,” he added.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, meanwhile, echoed Diokno’s statement.

“I’m sure it will be friendlier. I said yesterday, if I remember correctly, that the way he was treated could have been the result of exuberance on the part of the questioner, temporarily forgetting the rules on courtesies of the House,” Panelo said.

Panelo pointed out that delays in the proposed 2019 budget’s passage did not mean that House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not support it.

“As they explained it, there are certain amendments that they need to scrutinize and subject the same to a more review. And perhaps, because of work in Congress that restricts them from passing the budget on time,” Panelo said.

Amid rumors that Arroyo is eyeing the Budget chief post, Diokno shrugged it off, saying that anyone could have his job if they wanted it.

“That’s speculative. They can have my job if they want to. You know, I did not apply for this job, okay, but I serve at the pleasure of the President,” Diokno said.

Panelo said that Arroyo previously mentioned that “she wants to enjoy retirement” after serving as House Speaker. (PNA)

Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

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