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Casiguran mayor denies being Diokno in-law

Casiguran Mayor Edwin Hamor on Tuesday denied being in-laws with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno amid the allegations his municipality in Sorsogon was favored in the allocation of funds for infrastructure projects.

At the resumption of the House of Representatives’ committee on rules’ hearing into the alleged “insertions” in the 2019 national budget, Hamor said it was his wife who was the in-law of Diokno.

Ang tawag niya [Diokno] sa akin mayor. Pero hindi ko balae,” Hamor said. 

Mas lalong hindi ko kaano-ano si Diokno.”

Hamor made his statement even as House Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. on Tuesday said there were at least P81 million worth of alleged deposit slips from Aremar Construction Corp., the company owned by the family of embattled Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s in-laws.

At the resumption of the congressional inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the budget preparation involving Diokno, Andaya, chairman of the House committee on rules, alleged that the committee “established an initial paper trail of possible corrupt money transfer from dummy corporations to Aremar involving P81 million, an amount that breaches the P50-million plunder point.”

Most big-time contractors that deal with the government merely use their “Triple A” qualification in bagging major projects and then farm these out to smaller contractors in exchange for “royalties.”

This emerged as the House of Representatives’ Committee on Rules continued its investigation into the alleged irregularities in the preparation of the national government budget.

Andaya on Tuesday chastised a local Commission on Audit official for allegedly failing to determine the presence of a Bulacan-based construction company’s equipment in different places and projects “all at the same time.”

Diokno’s daughter, Charlotte, is married to Jojo Sicat, the son of Sorsogon Vice Governor Esther Hamor from a previous marriage.

At the same time, Hamor told lawmakers that the infrastructure projects poured into his municipality were all meant to lower the poverty incidence.

During the hearing, Andaya even asked Hamor if he had seen Diokno in the past.

Hamor said he only saw the budget chief at a wedding.

He rejected the allegations that Aremar Construction Corp. cornered at least P551 million in government contracts in 2018 from the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Hamor slammed the claim of Andaya  that Aremar Construction Corp. was favored owing to his ties to the Budget secretary.

He said Aremar was established in 2014 when he was out of the government and when he was in the private sector.

“I divested before I assumed as mayor in 2016 in favor of my sister, Grace Hamor-Yu, and my daughter, Maria Minez Hamor,” the mayor said.

“Maria is my daughter outside of wedlock before I married Esther Hamor, who is the actual in-law of Diokno. Maria Hamor now owns majority of Aremar,” Hamor said.

He said Aremar and CT Leoncio Construction and Trading, a Triple A company, were not partners but  were only involved in a joint venture for four infrastructure projects in Sorsogon.

“Joint ventures are legal and allowed by the DPWH if it has a Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board approval and special license for joint venture purposes,” Hamor said. 

“All these joint ventures have PCAB approval and a numbered special license. Joint ventures are valid and legal,” 

Andaya insisted that Diokno favored not just Casiguran but also Aremar Construction Corp., which is owned by Mayor Hamor’s daughter out of wedlock, Maria, for the infrastructure projects in Sorsogon.

But contrary to Andaya’s claims that Casiguran was favored in the alleged P51-billion “insertions” in this year’s budget, the municipality was given zero allocation for infrastructure projects under the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Official documents likewise showed that among the provinces in the Bicol region, Albay had the highest allocation at P11.2 billion, debunking further Andaya’s allegation that Sorsogon was unduly favored by Diokno.

Sorsogon came in second at P10.5 billion, closely followed by Camarines Sur at P10.2 billion, Masbate at P4.5 billion, Camarines Norte at P3.3 billion, and Catanduanes at P2.5 billion.

Topics: Edwin Hamor , Benjamin Diokno , House of Representatives , Jojo Sicat , Rolando Andaya Jr

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