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Budget battle intensifies: Solon threatens to take Diokno before SC over pay hike row

MANILA – A congressman threatened Tuesday to petition the Supreme Court to compel Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno to implement another round of salary increase for government workers next week.

Diokno was recently quoted as saying in a media report that the fourth tranche of pay hike, which was supposed to start last Jan. 1, may be deferred pending the approval of this year’s proposed national budget.

Congress failed to approve the P3.757 trillion outlay before its Christmas break following allegations that it included anomalous insertions by the Department of Budget Management and pork barrel funds for House members.

The government is currently running on a recycled budget from the previous year.

Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. accused Diokno of “using every trick in the book to rush” lawmakers into approving the budget when he warned that its delay can affect the salary hike of soldiers, policemen, teachers and civilian employees.

The DBM “has all the tools in pushing through with the salary increases this year,” Andaya said in a statement.

The first round of salary increase for uniformed personnel in 2018 pushed through even if it was not included in the 2018 budget proposal, he pointed out.

“Considering the fact that the cash budget proposal this year is the same as last year, then a reenacted budget covers the needed funding for the salary increases,” he said.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s extension of the 2018 budget “also gives DBM more spending authority,” he added.

“In case he is too proud to take an advice from a congressman, then we might just see each other in court,” he warned.

“I will personally file a case for mandamus in the Supreme Court if the DBM will not implement the salary increase by January 15,” he added.

Diokno earlier dismissed as “illusory” Andaya’s allegation that he inserted P75 billion in appropriations to this year’s budget to favor one contractor of flood control projects.

The House Committee on Rules last week launched its probe into the alleged budget anomaly.

Senator Panfilo Lacson meanwhile urged the Office of the Ombudsman to look into the supposed pork barrel insertions that favored Andaya and House Speaker Arroyo’s districts.