Diokno sees Comelec OK of exemption for pivotal infra
The economic team is optimistic the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will greenlight their proposal to exempt big-ticket infrastructure from the spending ban ahead of the midterm elections in May, according to Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno.
“We are ready to submit a memo to the President to ask the Comelec to exempt [at least a portion of the 75] major projects so that there will be little disruption to our ‘Build, Build, Build’ program. We’re unanimous on that,” Diokno told a press conference.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto M. Pernia last Monday said the exemption was needed in response to the delayed approval of the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for 2019, which Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III had said tied up P46 billion for supposed spending for projects and programs in the first quarter.
The government is currently operating under a reenacted budget as this year’s appropriations stalled in Congress amid allegations of pork barrel insertions and kickbacks among lawmakers, who had also implicated Diokno for alleged conflict of interest with regard to certain infrastructure projects.
Diokno said the 75 flagship infrastructure projects under Build, Build, Build would be prioritized, as half of these were already on stream.
The budget chief said they would also be seeking exemptions for a number of bridge projects being built by the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“At this time we’re already identifying them,” he said.
According to Diokno, the poll body in the past had exempted some projects from the election ban. “You file a request with the Comelec, then in general they respond positively with the request.”
“We’re confident that our request will be granted. This is for our national welfare and development. I think Comelec will be broadminded enough. If it’s a national project, it will not affect the elections on the district level or something like that,” according to Diokno.
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