Andaya 'lacks common sense' on 2019 budget for salary hike — Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 8)   Malacañang on Tuesday shrugged off House Majority Floor Leader Rolando Andaya Jr.'s latest criticisms on the national budget, saying that the congressman "lacks common sense" on the issue.

In a media briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo came to the defense of Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno after Andaya threatened to file a case of mandamus---a court order for a government official to properly carry out his or her duties---against Diokno.

Andaya, in a statement Monday, said he "might just see" Diokno in the courts should the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) fail to implement the fourth tranche of salary increase for government workers this year, as mandated by the Salary Standardization Law (SSL).

But Panelo said there would be no legal basis in releasing the fourth tranche of the SSL as the 2019 national budget has yet to be passed.

The presidential spokesperson cited Diokno's text message during the briefing.

"It's elementary. The salary level authorized in the 2018 budget covers the third tranche of SSL only. The fourth tranche is provided for the 2019 president's budget para sa (for the) next year," Panelo told reporters. " Since the 2019 budget has yet to be approved, and we are operating on a reenacted budget, logically there is no legal basis for giving the fourth tranche."

"Kumbaga (Therefore it's just) common sense," Panelo added after reading the message. " Mukhang kulang din siya (Andaya) sa common sense kung babasahin ko 'tong sagot ni Secretary Diokno."

[Translation:It seems as if Andaya also lacks common sense based on this answer by Secretary Diokno.]

Andaya on Monday said the DBM had been using "scare tactics" by warning that a delay in the budget approval will affect the release of funds for some government workers.


Diokno cleared of insertion issue

During Monday night's Cabinet meeting, the Panelo added President Rodrigo Duterte has also cleared Diokno over alleged insertions in the 2018 budget.

"Sabi ni presidente 'Anong insertion? How can you insert something na ikaw nagpe-prepare? Kaya ka nga nagpi-prepare, edi ikaw talaga gumagawa nun,'" Panelo said.

[Translation:The President said, what insertion? How can you insert something that you prepared? If you were the one who prepared it, then it was really you who did the proposal.]

Last month, Rep. Andaya questioned Diokno for supposedly inserting multibillion-peso allocations for infrastructure projects in the budget proposal.

In a heated exchange during the question hour at the House of Representatives, Andaya said the "insertions" took place without the knowledge of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

READ: Palace berates Congress for 'disrespecting,' 'mocking' Diokno

Last week, Andaya made another allegation against Diokno, saying that funds for the DPWH's flood-control projects were being transferred to a company owned by Diokno's in-laws in Sorsogon.