Panelo assures public that gov’t has adequate budget for BOL plebiscite

Published January 15, 2019, 9:12 PM

by Dhel Nazario, Jeffrey G. Damicog, and Rey G. Panaligan

By Genalyn Kabiling

House Majority leader Rolando Andaya Jr. was probably misinformed about the supposed lack of funds for the plebiscite on the law creating the Bangsamoro autonomous region, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo has assured the public that the government has adequate funds to hold the plebiscite on the ratification of the Bangsamoro measure.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

“His statement is misplaced and without basis. There are funds for the plebiscite,” Panelo said during a press briefing at the Palace.

“Baka naman he was just misinformed that’s why iyong kaniyang basis eh, iyong statement niya mali rin [Maybe he was just misinformed that’s why his basis, his statement was wrong]. Let’s give the benefit of the doubt to everyone,” he added.

Asked if Andaya was purveyor of false information, Panelo said: “You said that, I didn’t. But others might agree with you.”

He stressed that the plebiscite would have been postponed if the government had no ample funds. “Obviously tuloy, so may pondo [It will obviously push through so there are funds],” he said.

Andaya earlier warned the prospect of peace in Mindanao was in peril following the alleged failure of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to earmark funds for the BOL plebiscite set on January 21 and February 6.

The former budget chief claimed the Commission on Elections needed P857 million to hold the plebiscite but Diokno allegedly failed to include such allocation in the poll body’s budget this year.

Diokno, however, rejected Andaya’s latest allegation against him, saying there was sufficient fund for the BOL plebiscite.

He said they have set aside P111.8 million for the Comelec election budget in the 2018 national budget and P95.8 million in the 2019 expenditure program. The poll body could also tap its P409.5 million in continuing appropriations for the upcoming plebiscite.