Palace confident Diokno can defend himself vs. graft raps

Palace confident Diokno can defend himself vs. graft raps

MANILA – Malacañang on Thursday expressed confidence that Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno can clear his name after being slapped with graft complaint in connection with the PHP1.75-billion deal for the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys).

In a virtual presser, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque vouched for Diokno’s integrity.

“So naninindigan po tayo sa integridad in Governor Diokno. At alam naman natin na karapatan ng kahit sino ang magsampa ng kaso. Pero kampante po kami at nagtitiwala na magbibigay linaw po si Governor Diokno sa isyu na ito (We believe in Governor Diokno’s integrity. Anyone has the right to file a case. But we are confident that Governor Diokno will eventually clear his name on the issue),” Roque said.

Diokno and six other BSP officials are facing graft charges before the Office of the Ombudsman due to supposed anomalies in the PHP1.75-billion supply and equipment contract for the implementation of PhilSys.

Other respondents are BSP Security Plan Complex (SPC) bids and awards committee (BAC) chair Prudence Angelita Kasala, BSP director Rogel Joseph del Rosario, BSP-SPC acting production manager Carl Cesar Bibat, BSP-SPC BAC vice-chair Marianne Santos, and BSP-SPC BAC members Salvador del Mundo and Giovanni Israel Joson.

Ricardo Fulgencio IV, chairperson of the anti-corruption group Stop Corruption Organization of the Philippines Inc., sued Diokno and other BSP officials for requiring the winning bidder, AllCard International, to procure raw materials for 116 million PhilID cards from Swedish firm OVD Kinegram.

Fulgencio claimed that the respondents gave Kinegram “undue advantage in the process” and “unwarranted benefits.”

Citing Section 5, Paragraph A of the Terms of Reference for the deal, Fulgencio said the materials for the diffractive optically variable image device (DOVID) shall be procured “by rolls or on polycarbonate sheets from Kinegram, sufficient for printing, production, and packaging of 116 million pieces” of PhilSys cards.

Fulgencio said Diokno and other respondents “deprived other DOVID suppliers of the opportunity to bid for the project and robbed the government of getting the most advantageous terms for the supply of such raw materials.”

“Reference to brand names shall not be allowed… Specifying any brand name is not allowed by the GPRA (Government Procurement Reform Act),” he said. “Clearly, this is a corrupt practice.”

Despite the filing of graft complaint against Diokno, Roque said the BSP chief still enjoys President Rodrigo Duterte’s trust and confidence.

“Governor Diokno, until fairly recently, was in the Cabinet, enjoying the full trust and confidence of the President. In fact, he (President Duterte) trusted him so much that he promoted him to become Central Bank Governor,” Roque said.

Diokno, a former Budget secretary under the Duterte administration, was named BSP’s fifth governor in March 2019.

Diokno went on medical leave on Monday after undergoing an operation to remove a blood clot caused by a minor head accident. He was discharged from hospital on Wednesday. (PNA)

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