House rejects Diokno’s request for ‘indefinite postponement’ of Question Hour appearance

By Ben Rosario

The House of Representatives thumbed down on Monday a request from Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno for an “indefinite postponement” of his appearance in the scheduled Question Hour set for Tuesday.

Department of Budget and Management Secretary, Benjamin Diokno speaks during a press briefing in New Executive Building inside the Malacanang grounds in Manila. (MBPHOTO/CAMILLE ANTE / MANILA BULLETIN) Budget and Management Secretary Benjamin Diokno (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Majority Leader and Camarines Rep. Rolando Andaya Jr. informed Diokno of the rejection as the House official stressed the importance of conducting the proceedings immediately.

Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, proponent of the Question Hour proceeding, said the minority bloc was consulted and they decided to disallow Diokno’s request.

In a letter to former President and now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Diokno appealed that the proceedings be “rescheduled to a later date.”

The additional time requested will enable the DBM to gather the necessary information and undertake coordination with the other agencies concerned, in order to provide the Lower Chamber with the appropriate responses and clarifications,” said Diokno.

Responding to Diokno’s request, Andaya said the House “finds it imperative to hold said Question Hour the soonest.”

“We stand firm on our intention to hold the Question Hour as scheduled and look forward to your appearance,”said Andaya.

He also clarified that the time allocated for the QH will be more than one hour.

Diokno will be grilled over various controversies surrounding the P3.757-trillion national budget proposed by the Executive department.

Suarez said the minority bloc will present a witness on the budget issue.

Congressmen want Diokno to explain the P52-billion allocation that was discovered “concealed” in various congressional districts.

The House leadership re-aligned the amount but certain executive officials allegedly tried to pressure congressmen against touching the allocation.

Suarez said that despite being at the receiving end of Senator Panfilo Lacson's criticisms over alleged pork barrel funds inserted by House officials, the minority bloc will not thread on so-called Senate pork barrel when Diokno appears for the Question Hour.

On the other hand, Coop-Natcco Rep. Anthony Bravo said Diokno will be asked to tell the Lower House his definition of “pork barrel”.

“Where does insertion really come in? When you say it comes when the House is deliberating on the budget bill, that would be wrong because scrutiny of the budget is the function of Congress,” said Bravo.