Andaya seeks probe into ‘missing’ budget for Bangsamoro plebiscite
MANILA, Philippines – House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr wants lawmakers to investigate why the budget needed for the plebiscite to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) next month was allegedly not included in the proposed 2019 budget.
On Monday, January 14, Andaya slammed Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjamin Diokno anew for supposedly forgetting to allocate funds for the upcoming plebiscite.
“We have been, shall we say, doing level best in passing all the administrative measures endorsed by the President [Rodrigo Duterte], more so specifically the centerpiece of his peace and order agenda, the Bangsamoro Organic Law. But lost in all of this is the fact that we are about to hold the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law come February 6. But unfortunately, our beloved DBM secretary has forgotten to include the P1-billion amount needed for the said plebiscite,” said Andaya in a privilege speech.
“He completely forgot about it. And had we, had we listened to him and passed the budget without even looking at it, then we would have been part of that negligence,” said the Majority Leader.
According to Andaya the initial P40 billion needed should the BOL be approved is also not in the proposed P3.757-trillion budget for 2019.
The Majority Leader said he also wants the House to investigate the P100 billion that the government still owes various contractors and suppliers. He said these unpaid contracts are expected to be settled during the first quarter of this year.
Andaya then moved that the House committee on appropriations be directed to probe into the said budget concerns. The plenary approved Andaya’s motion.
Seeking Comelec clarification
In September 2018, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sheriff Abas said the poll body wants to request from the DBM the P857 million needed for the BOL plebiscite. Abas said the DBM had initially suggested that the Comelec tap its savings for the Bangsamoro plebiscite, but he said these savings were already depleted.
The government is still operating on a reenacted budget from 2018 as Congress is yet to pass the 2019 budget.
But Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo previously said the reenacted budget will not affect the BOL as “the budget for this was already included in the 2018 budget,” contrary to Andaya’s statement.
Rappler already sought clarification from the Comelec but spokesperson James Jimenez has yet to reply as of posting time. – with reports from Pia Ranada/Rappler.com