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‘Stick to facts’ in double entry row

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 17:52:00 09/30/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Tuesday urged senators to “stick to the facts” as it belied suspicions raised during a legislative inquiry that the executive branch benefited from the double entry of a P200-million item in the 2008 budget.

At a hearing on the double entry of the budget for the C-5 road extension project, Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and former budget secretary Benjamin Diokno, a resource person in the proceedings, said the Palace could have benefited from the double entry.

“I hope our friends from the opposition will rise above partisan considerations and refrain from speculative statements and just stick to facts. The Palace made it clear from the outset that it will not allow any illegal release of any fund, much less benefit from it,” Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said in a statement.

Dureza appealed to lawmakers to work for an “early but definitive” end to the budget insertions controversy, which has divided the Senate into two factions, one led by Senate President Manuel Villar, the other led by Senator Panfilo Lacson.

Lacson had accused Villar, a successful real estate developer before entering politics, of benefiting from the C-5 road extension project.

“We can all direct valuable time and attention to the more urgent issues like the financial turmoil that is now inflicting all of us and the whole world. President [Gloria Macpagal] Arroyo needs the support of all sectors as we brace ourselves for the challenges in the days ahead,” Dureza said.

Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. maintained that the government did not benefit from the double entry, which was not disbursed.

“This issue is and should be and will always be confined to the senate it cannot go beyond that,” he told reporters at the Palace.

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-09-30T15:26:43+00:00UTC09bUTCTue, 30 Sep 2008 15:26:43 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm09

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