Martires blasts Andaya, denies probe into flood control scam
MANILA, Philippines – Ombudsman Samuel Martires denied that the Office of the Ombudsman has opened a formal investigation into the alleged flood control scam, contrary to the claim of House Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.
In a strongly worded statement sent after office hours on Thursday, January 10, Martires said an Ombudsman investigator merely called up the House of Representatives to ask for copies of Andaya’s and Senator Panfilo Lacson's privilege speeches.
Lacson had called upon the Office of the Ombudsman in a privilege speech to probe alleged “pork” insertions in the 2019 budget, which allegedly came in the form of flood control projects.
“We have not yet conducted any investigation with respect to the subject matter of the privilege speeches of Senator Panfilo Lacson and Rep. Andaya. As of the moment, we are only in the process of gathering documents,” Martires said.
Martires also said the Majority Floor Leader's earlier statement was “inaccurate.”
Andaya had earlier told the press that the Ombudsman had “joined the probe” into the flood control scam, when Martires said they were merely asking for copies of the privilege speeches.
A "formal investigation" means it has been docketed for a fact-finding probe, which has not been the case.
“Apparently, the Office of the Ombudsman has noticed red flags of corruption on the evidence presented and on the testimonies made during the hearing,” Andaya said in his statement.
Martires said: “Truth of the matter is, we have not seen any red flag even from the horizon because we have not been sufficiently educated as to the subject matter of the privilege speeches of Sen. Lacson and Representative Andaya, and as we have yet to fully investigate the matter.”
Martires said a staff member of the House Committee on Rules asked the investigator if he would also want copies of the materials that Andaya presented during hearings. “Any well-meaning investigator will not refuse any information that may enlighten him or the Office on the subject matter.”
Andaya had said that the House would “provide” the Office of the Ombudsman “all the documents requested.” Martires called this “imprecise.”
Martires said the prudent thing to do is for Andaya to file a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman.
“It is not good to drag the Office of the Ombudsman into this feud between the Office of the Secretary of Budget and Management and the House of Representatives,” Martires said.
Andaya is leading the House probe into the alleged budget anomalies under Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno. The Majority Leader also accused Diokno of allegedly using his influence as budget chief to corner big government projects in Sorsogon, where the latter's in-laws are elected officials.
The House committee on rules chaired by Andaya is investigating how Aremar Construction, which has a joint venture with a firm connected to a Diokno in-law, allegedly used at least 8 dummy contractors to bag big government projects in Sorsogon. (READ: Contractor not aware Diokno’s in-laws behind partner firm – lawyer)
The ongoing feud has affected the enactment of the 2019 national budget. – with a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com