By Merlina Malipot
Education Secretary Leonor Briones joined other Cabinet officials in defending Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Benjanmin Diokno and vouched for his “professionalism, competence and integrity.”
In a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte and coursed thru Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea dated December 12, 2018, Briones wrote a testimonial on Diokno, expressing her “complete agreement” on the President’s support for Diokno as transmitted by Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo.
Briones said that she has known Diokno “since his undergraduate and graduate years” at the National College of Public Administration of the University of the Philippines (UP) and the UP School of Economics.
She noted that she has “followed his journey” – from his doctoral studies in economics at the Syracuse University in New York, USA to his “highly respected position” as Professor Emeritus of the UP School of Economics.
Diokno “is not only an accomplished academic and researcher” but he also “implements what he teaches and advocates,” she said.
She also “witnessed and participated in his major contributions to reforms in the Philippine administrative system, including government rationalization, tax policies, and reforms, public administration management analysis, fiscal decentralization, and the national budget system.”
Briones said Diokno also sponsored the Government Procurement Reform Act and currently “oversees its strict implementation.”
Briones, who is also a former secretary of the Commission on Audit, vice president of the University of the Philippines, and former national treasurer, has “personally witnessed specific instance when Secretary Diokno chose good governance and strict implementation of law over friendship and personal relationships.”
During his first stint as DBM Secretary, Briones said that Diokno earned the nickname “Dr. NO” due to his “consistent refusal to bend to pressure and to circumvent rules and regulations.”
Meanwhile, Briones also told the President that the “relationship” between the legislature and executive is that of “advice and consent” – noting that “one branch of government can politely advise [and] the other branch can politely withhold consent.”
Earlier, the House of Representatives urged Duterte to reconsider Diokno’s appointment following allegations of corruption by making “insertions” in the 2018 and 2019 budgets — which Diokno denied.