Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday questioned how the Office of the Vice President spent P125 million in confidential funds in 11 days in 2022 as she compared it to the Philippine Coast Guard’s P117 million confidential budget spread over 17 years.
“Our Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea monitors China’s tantrums every day. It made do with P117 million in confidential funds for 17 years. For the OVP, it didn’t even last two weeks,” the senator said.
The OVP earlier said it would answer the issue when its proposed P2.3-billion budget for 2024, which includes an allocation of P500 million in confidential funds, is discussed in the House plenary.
On Tuesday, however, the plenary debate on the OVP budget at the House of Representatives on Tuesday (Sept. 26) was rescheduled after Vice President Sara Duterte failed to show up.
Citing a “conflict in schedule,” Duterte did not make it at the House to defend the proposed budgets for the OVP as well as for the Department of Education which she also heads.
House Deputy Majority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said the OVP budget debate would instead be held today (Wednesday), which is the target date for the passage on third and final reading of the P5.768-trillion national budget for 2024.
Duterte’ absence prompted House Deputy Minority Leader ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro to inquire whether or not lawmakers would still get to discuss the budgets of the two offices.
Earlier, Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo, senior vice chair of the House committee on appropriations, said the Commission on Audit has assured Congress that a full report will be submitted on Nov. 15, 2023 as its audit is still ongoing.
Quimbo likewise reiterated her call for the creation of a special oversight committee for confidential and intelligence funds (CIFs) in the House of Representatives to boost transparency and ensure that people’s money is spent properly. With Maricel Cruz