Secretary Benjamin Diokno of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) must come clean and disclose to the public the factual truth behind the controversy over unpaid contractors of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
The insinuation that a corruption-ridden DBM has gone “bankrupt” is simply terrifying for the ordinary Juan de la Cruz, who is already aggravated by the delayed National Budget for this year and disgusting allegations irregularities involving Diokno’s contractor in-laws.
The DBM has, “in a press statement,” strongly denied claims made by Camarines Sur Rep. Rolando Andaya, House Committee on Appropriations chairman, that the government now owes DPWH over P100 billion for 2018 projects.
Sources inside the DPWH and among its contractors confirmed to me that payments have, in fact, been delayed since last November.
The contractors said they have sought DPWH officials for explanation over the delay of the payments by the government on finished infrastructure projects, but they were pointed to DBM, who have yet to release funds to the public works department.
Similarly, our efforts to reach Diokno proved futile, as the Budget Secretary would not return our phone calls.
Again, he must come clean and clear up these gut-wrenching issues that threatened blow up in the face of the Duterte administration’s anti-corruption campaign.
Andaya alleges that unpaid contracts for infrastructure projects have ballooned from P44 billion in November to P100 billion at the end of 2018.
He further alleges that some contractors were prompted to “cough up bribe or pay some officials’ kickbacks just to be paid for completed infrastructure projects.”
The DBM reportedly belied Andaya’s allegation, saying that it only released “spending authority and notice of cash allocation (NCA).”
But one contractor told me that the government has owed him over P100 million for a finished concrete highway in Southern Tagalog since October last year.
The contractor said he has been paid only P10 million in November and has not been paid since then.
I wish Andaya were wrong in saying the P100-billion payables is just “the tip of the iceberg.”
Worse, the administration’s “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program could be in “peril” as an “economic slowdown is imminent” and a “contractors’ revolt is possible.”
Unfortunately for the general public, all these persistent allegations of irregularities involving the DBM muddle up the enactment of this year’s P3.7-trillion national budget.”‹