Enough for Diokno: No House probes, but open to Senate

MANILA, Philippines – He's had enough with the House of Representatives.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said he will no longer appear in budget probes initiated by the House.

In an interview with CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday, January 15, Diokno pointed out that he has appeared in several briefings at the House to explain the budget.

"I have explained on at least 5 occasions [and] discussed the budget. I was there at the 'question hour,' 5 hours. I have said what I want to say," Diokno said.

Asked whether he would still attend future probes or briefings if invited by the House, Diokno replied, "Walang balak, kahit na ano (I don't have any plans)."

But he's open to appearing before the Senate, if invited.

"Sure, [I will go]. It's my duty as budget secretary to defend the budget. But I've been there many times too, but sure," Diokno said.

House lawmakers quizzed Diokno last December about matters regarding the budget, after they "found" P50 billion worth of "misplaced" public works funds and "big budget cuts" in some agencies.

House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr and Minority Leader Danilo Suarez accused Diokno of using his influence as budget chief for the approval of several road and flood control projects in Casiguran and Sorsogon worth P10 billion.

Andaya initiated a probe after hurling the corruption allegations against Diokno, who maintains that the lawmakers' claims are "wrong and not grounded on facts."

Diokno's fellow Cabinet members earlier expressed support for him, saying that congressmen "disrespected" their colleague.

Malacañang said Cabinet members should leave or skip congressional hearings if they feel they are or will be shown "disrespect." – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.

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