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Saturday, July 13, 2024

‘VP doesn’t deserve impeach bid’

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Vice President Sara Duterte does not deserve to be impeached over her office’s requests for confidential funds, President Marcos said in an interview in Hawaii on Monday (Manila time).

“We don’t want her to—she does not deserve to be impeached. So, we will make sure that this is something that we will pay very close attention to,” Mr. Marcos said.

The President said calls for the impeachment of high-ranking officials are not new, especially if there are people who seek to change the results of an election.

“I guess a continuing evolution of that thinking is that for as long as we do not like that person elected, we can remove that person, we can impeach that person. There must be a reason other than just because they don’t like that person. That’s not a reason to be impeached,” he added.

Duterte on Sunday said she believed she still has the trust of President Marcos even as her office is doing “due diligence” on rumors that there are moves to impeach her.

Speaker Martin Romualdez also categorically denied claims there was a move to impeach the Vice President amid talk of fractures inside the “UniTeam” coalition.

“I’m not aware of anything… There’s been nothing filed, no news of that,” Romualdez said in a chance interview in San Francisco, California where he is part of President Marcos’ delegation to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.

“I don’t know who your sources are but there’s nothing in the offing,” he added.

Mr. Marcos said he does not see any crack in the “UniTeam.”

On the contrary, the President said they are growing stronger and larger with the addition of more members.

“These are the same people who talk about impeachment. They are the same people who say UniTeam is falling apart. That’s not true. Just look at the political developments in the past few months,” the President said.

Duterte echoed the same sentiment: “We’re okay. I believe that I still have the trust of President Marcos.”

The “UniTeam” coalition was built to support the Marcos-Duterte tandem during the 2022 presidential election.

The impeachment talk followed a decision by Congress to remove P650 million in confidential and intelligence funds that were proposed for the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Education, agencies that Duterte leads.

In May, Duterte resigned her position as chairperson of Lakas-CMD, which was her top campaign donor in 2022, with P139 million in in-kind contributions.

Last week, the Supreme Court was asked to order the Office of the Vice President to return the P125 million confidential funds it spent in 2022 to the government’s treasury, saying these were “unconstitutional.”

The petitioners said the transfer of funds from the Office of the President to the OVP was an exercise of legislative power.

Duterte welcomed the filing of the petition, saying this would give her a chance to clear her name.

The petitioners included former Commission on Elections chairman Augusto Lagman, Constitution framer Christian Monsod, former Finance undersecretary Maria Cielo Magno, Commission on Filipinos Overseas chairperson Imelda Nicolas, and lawyer Ibarra Gutierrez III, ex-spokesman of former Vice President Leni Robredo.

“Under the doctrine of separation of powers, the power of appropriation falls exclusively within the domain of the legislative branch of government. Congress decides how the budget will be spent, what programs, activities, and projects (PAP) to fund, and the amounts of money to be spent for each PAP,” their petition said.

“Verily, the appropriation done by the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) is a clear usurpation of the legislative powers of the Congress of the Philippines to create and fund an item that has not been done so by the Congress itself.”

The petitioners argued that there is no “delegated legislative power” in the transfer and that confidential funds do not fall under the funding allowed by the contingent fund.

The transfer, they said, was also a circumvention of accountability.

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