House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Partylist Representative France Castro questioned Vice President Sara Duterte’s P125 million ($7.1 million) confidential funds. According to documents from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Office of the Vice President (OVP) spent the said money in just a period of 19 days.
“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 P6,578,947.37 or almost P7 million per day,” Castro said.
Prior to this, the Commission on Audit (COA) had already flagged Duterte’s spending of P668,000 for the purchase of office equipment for supposed ‘satellite offices’ the OVP. These so-called satellite offices served as headquarters during her campaign in 2022.
“We are wondering how such a large amount of money was spent in such a short period of time,” Castro added.
According to reports, the confidential funds in question were part of a P221.42 million transfer made by the Office of the President to the OVP without congressional authorization. This transaction was further questioned by two Senators last 5 September during the Senate budget hearing.
“From out of thin air, the OVP was able to get and spend money for confidential funds,” said Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III who served as Senate president from 2016 to 2018. Pimentel explained that the fund transfer violated the basic rules of budgeting.
In a separate statement, Senator Franklin Drilon said the transaction “raises serious concerns regarding the constitutionality of the fund transfer.”
During her time as Mayor of Davao City, Sara Duterte’s office was often flagged by the Commission on Audit (COA) for anomalies in the management of public funds. Some of these anomalies include:
Failure to report donated goods including 10 vans from the Chinese embassy, an ambulatory vehicle, and other medical supplies;
Lack of documentation on aid allocated for health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic;
Lack of documentation on several budget items worth P97 million. Her office also failed to produce documents proving the procurement of relief goods worth P119 million.