THE Office of the Vice President (OVP) under Sara Duterte-Carpio has spent its P125 million confidential funds in 2022 in just 11 days.
The matter was revealed on Monday, September 25, 2023, by Marikina Representative Stella Luz Quimbo during the plenary deliberation for the proposed 2024 budget of the Commission on Audit (COA).
House assistant minority leader Arlene Brosas of Gabriela asked COA about reports that the OVP spent its P125 million within 19 days, “which seems to be a very short period of time.”
“The truth is I was also surprised when I heard reports that the amount was spent within 19 days. I asked COA and I checked numerous reports. It was not spent within 19 days, but 11 days,” said Quimbo, who sponsored the COA proposed budget.
“It’s hard to comprehend that if that is for surveillance, how many reward payments have been made to spend P11 million per day… Did OVP submit liquidation report to the Office of the President, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House?” Brosas replied.
Quimbo said the OVP submitted its liquidation reports for its spendings in 2022 in January 2023.
She said COA already submitted its preliminary observation or audit observation memorandum to the OVP.
Quimbo said the COA committed to complete its audit of the OVP by November 15.
The P125 million confidential funds of the OVP is part of the P221.4 million released by the Office of the President (OP), under its contingent fund, to the agency on December 13, 2022.
Senate minority leader Aquilino Pimentel earlier questioned the release of the funds, noting that confidential funds are not in the line budgeting of the OVP in 2022.
In her sponsorship speech, Quimbo pushed for the creation of a special oversight committee to ensure the transparency of the utilization of confidential and intelligence funds.
Based on the 2024 National Expenditure Program (NEP), the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is asking for P5.77 billion for intelligence funds and P4.864 for confidential funds.
The proposed intelligence funds for 2024 is slightly higher than the P5.217 billion sought by the administration in its first year in office but lower than the intelligence funds in 2022 which was P6.405 billion.
Intelligence is being used for information-gathering activities of uniformed and military personnel, and intelligence practitioners that have a direct impact on national security. These may only be released upon the approval of the President and agencies are required to submit a quarterly accomplishment report on the use of the funds.
Confidential expenses, on the other hand, may be used upon the approval of the department secretary for surveillance activities in civilian government agencies that are intended to support its mandate or operations.
Of the more than P10 billion intelligence and confidential funds, almost half will be allocated to the OP, while the OVP and the Department of Education, which is both under Duterte, will get P500 million and P150 million, respectively. (SunStar Philippines)