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OVP spent P125m in confidential funds in just 19 days — lawmaker

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Vice President Sara Duterte spent P125 million in confidential funds in the last 19 days of December 2022, an opposition lawmaker said Monday.

House Deputy Minority leader and ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro cited documents from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Office of the Vice President to show that the P125 million in confidential funds, released on Dec. 13, 2022, had already been spent by Dec. 31 of the same year.

“So in short, the OVP spent the whole P125 million confidential fund given to her office in a span of just 19 days, from Dec. 13 to Dec. 31, 2022. This translates to P 6,578,947.37 or almost P7 million per day,” she said.

Existing guidelines on the use of confidential funds, Castro said, say “these can only be spent on surveillance-related activities such as purchase of information, rental of transport vehicles, rental and maintenance of safe houses, purchase or rental of supplies, material and equipment, payment of rewards to informers, and uncovering or preventing certain illegal activities.”

“We are wondering how such a large amount of money was spent in such a short period of time,” Castro said in Filipino.

The current guidelines on confidential funds state that only agencies “expressly provided budget allocation for CF” in the General Appropriations Act are entitled to the same. The OVP has no allocation for CF in the 2022 GAA.

On Friday, Duterte reacted to Castro’s initial revelation that her office had used P125 million in confidential funds without congressional authorization.

“The seething disdain overwhelming France Castro these days is hardly concealed even by her capacity to string serious allegations against the Office of the Vice President over the 2022 confidential fund,” Duterte said in a statement.

“But today, Ms. Castro doesn’t deserve an explanation because she did not come to class prepared—like a good teacher,” she added.

In a news release, Castro cited the OVP 2022 annual audit report released by the Commission on Audit (COA) saying that there was an additional allotment for confidential expense during the second semester of CY 2022 amounting to P125 million, which is also reflected under the “Supporting Information to the Statement of Financial Performance” found on page 20 of the same document.

“The Vice President needs to explain how she could incur obligations amounting to P125 million in confidential expenses in the last six months of 2022 despite the fact that her office has no congressional authorization to do so for that year,” Castro said.

The party-list lawmaker asked that the OVP provide a detailed public accounting of how the said amount was spent, adding that there is a possibility that the Vice President may face dismissal from office as well as disqualification from public office for “misuse of public funds.”

But Duterte said she welcomes the probe that Castro recommended.

“All she did was wildly and masterfully arrange some accusations against me and the OVP, which will all be answered once the probe is done and during the budget hearing,” Duterte said.


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