Arroyo, Andaya deny getting biggest budget for 2019

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House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and House Majority Leader Ronaldo Andaya

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 11) — The top two leaders of the House of Representatives cried foul over Senator Panfilo Lacson's allegation that they got the lion's share of the allocation for infrastructure projects under the proposed 2019 national budget.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. on Tuesday said the budget allocations for their districts are nowhere as large as that of former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his allies.

"The two allegations I wanted to check- I cornered it? No. There were 60 to 80, 60 to 90 more who got bigger than my district. Second allegation, they were my allies? No. The previous leadership of the house got bigger. Multiples of the budget of my district," Arroyo said.

Andaya said in his draft letter addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte Alvarez's district received the biggest budget for public works projects at ₱5 billion. Alvarez is followed by former Appropriations Committee Chairperson and now Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles with P4 billion pesos, and former Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas with ₱3.5 billion.

In his letter, Andaya said Arroyo's bailiwick, the second district of Pampanga, was ranked 60th in the list, while the first district of Camarines Sur, which he represented, was at 110th place.

"Clarify ko lang, nung binigay nung executive 'yung budget dito, 'yung tatlong former officials were in the top 10. Number one si former speaker. Pagkatapos dito sa House, number one pa rin siya," Andaya said.

[Translation: I want to clarify. When the Executive gave the budget, the three former officials were in the top 10. The former speaker is number one. After here in the House, he remains number one.]

Andaya said the Department of Budget and Management should break its silence on the pork barrel funds that Lacson said is in the 2019 budget since the Department of Public Works and Highways denies any hand in the insertions.

READ: Lacson maintains 'pork' inserted in 2019 budget

The House leadership asked Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to explain at the plenary how Alvarez and his allies ended up with multibillion-peso allocations.

"The public works said they did not know anything about it. It just landed on their laps," Andaya said.

Citing the amount cornered by Alvarez and his allies, Arroyo said it's unfair that she's being singled out by Lacson for supposedly having a ₱2.4-billion allocation.

House Appropriations Committee Acting Chairperson Maria Carmen Zamora earlier said Arroyo's district only got a budget of ₱1.9 billion.

"Why should I deprive the people of my district? I'm only upper-middle class as far as the allocations are concerned," Arroyo said.

Alvarez and Fariñas said they do not know where Andaya got the information that they have the biggest allocations in the house.

Multibillion contracts

Amid questions on the 2019 budget, the House is set to subpoena Consolacion Leoncio who owns the CT Leoncio Construction and Trading that allegedly bagged billions of pesos worth of contracts in several provinces, including Sorsogon, Samar and Catanduanes.

Andaya said CT Leoncio is able to bag lucrative contracts because it is backed by powerful government officials, some of whom are allegedly in the Cabinet.

"If you look at the performance, lahat slippage. Lahat hindi pa complete. Marami right of way pa ang problema (everything is slippage. Everything is incomplete. Many have right of way problems)," he said.

"Sa ganoong klaseng performance, automatic blacklisted ka na. Bakit di ka pa rin blacklisted? Merong nasa taas. Pwede nga Cabinet members eh," he added.

[Translation: With that kind of performance, you'd be automatically blacklisted. Why aren't you blaclisted yet? Somebody is above. Possibly Cabinet members.]

The House Rules Committee will hold an investigation on what Andaya calls a large-scale scam involving the 2018 budget.