A Congressional leader on Monday said the P125 million in confidential funds allocated to the Office of the Vice President (OVP) by the Office of the President (OP) was spent in 11 days, and not in 19, citing information from the Commission on Audit (COA).
Marikina City Rep. Stella Quimbo, senior vice chair of the House committee on appropriations, made this disclosure in the course of Monday’s plenary debates for the 2024 budget request of COA.
During the plenary deliberation, the Marikina lawmaker revealed that the multimillion-peso confidential fund granted to the office of Vice President Sara Duterte for the year 2022 by the OP had been obligated in just 11 days.
When asked if reports were accurate that the OVP’s confidential fund was spent in 19 days, Quimbo said in Filipino: “Madam Speaker, the truth is that I was also surprised when I read the news that it was spent within 19 days and I asked about the COA and I looked at the various reports, but it was not spent within 19 days but 11 days, Madam Speaker.”
According to COA, Quimbo said, the OVP submitted its liquidation report in January 2023 and was issued an audit observation memorandum or AOM on Sept. 18, 2023 by state auditors.
The appropriations committee vice chairperson said COA assured Congress that a full report will be submitted on Nov. 15, 2023 as the audit is still ongoing.
At this point, Quimbo 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.
Quimbo, who in her opening speech to endorse the 2024 spending plan of COA, sought the creation of a special panel to be composed of the House Speaker, three members of the majority, and one member of the minority.
Under the present setup, only the President, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the House have access to information pertaining to CIFs.
“I believe that the people’s money should be spent properly. This can only be achieved with a stronger push towards transparent governance,” Quimbo told the plenary.