By Charissa Luci-Atienza
As they demanded anew the resignation of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, progressive lawmakers said the P75-billion “Palace” insertions in the 2019 proposed national budget should be used to fund social services, including the pay hike for public school teachers and government employees.
ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio said Malacanang and the Cabinet were behind the P75-billion insertions.
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio (Photo courtesy of Act Teachers Party-List / FACEBOOK)
“It is clear that the Palace and the Cabinet are responsible for these insertions, mainly allocated for questionable flood control projects. These are Palace insertions,” he told reporters in a press conference.
“This P75 billion should be used to raise the salary of teachers and government employees,” he said.
ACT Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro said the P75 billion would be enough to fund the salary hike for the 700,000 employees of the Department of Education (DepEd).
“Sobra sobra na ang P75 billion para gamitin bilang dagdag sweldo sa ating mga teachers,” she said, lamenting that the DepEd suffered a P50-billion budget cut in the proposed national budget for this year.
Kabataan partylist Rep.Sarah Elago, for his part, said, “Hinahamon natin ang Duterte administration na ilagay ang P75 billion sa social services, lalo na sa mga eskwelahan na nakakaranas ng malalaking kaltas ng pondo.”
Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Anakpawis partylist Rep. Ariel Casilao sought Diokno’s resignation. The call was also made by House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez, citing that “Diokno can voluntarily resign."
“Nire-reteirate ng Makabayan na dapat si Secretary Diokno umalis, kung may naiiwan pa syang delicadeza, hindi na sya puedeng magmalinis. Sya ang pangunahing promotor ng insertions sa ating budget,” Zarate said.
Casilao said the involvement of Diokno in the billions of anomalous flood control projects cast doubts on the President Duterte's campaign against corruption.
“Isang economic adviser ang sangkot sa bilyong bilyong anomalya ay hindi nya kayang tanggalin ito. Dito mo makikita na gaano kapeke ang kampanya nya sa korapsyon,” he said.
Zarate likened the cash-based budgeting reforms being pushed by Diokno to the “budol-budol” modus operandi.
“Deceptive ang so-called reforms na tinutulak ni Secretary Diokno walang pagkakaiba sa mga budol budol gang. Niloloko ang mamamayan lumalabas na bilyon bilyon ang insertions. Ito ay double whammy, nawalan tayo ng pondo basic services at may malaking opportunity for corruption,” he said.
“Hindi puedeng maliitin ito ng Malacanang na sinususportahan pa rin si Secretary Diokno, parang there is nothing wrong with the P75-B insertion even the DPWH hindi nila alam, again duplicitous ang cash based budgeting,” Zarate said. (Charissa M. Luci-Atienza)