Hontiveros scrutinizes OVP's P500-M confidential fund; Duterte says they can live without it | Inquirer News

Hontiveros scrutinizes OVP’s P500-M confidential fund; Duterte says they can live without it

/ 06:28 PM September 04, 2023

Vice President Sara Duterte explained the P500 million confidential fund that is tucked in the proposed P2.3-billion budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP).

Senator Risa Hontiveros (left) and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. INQUIRER FILE PHOTOS

MANILA, Philippines — “We can only propose, but we are not insisting,” Vice President Sara Duterte said, responding to the grilling Monday morning by members of the Senate Committee on finance regarding the P500 million confidential fund that is tucked in the proposed P2.3-billion budget of the Office of the Vice President (OVP).

“We can live without confidential funds, but of course, our work will be much easier if we have the flexibility of confidential funds in monitoring the safe, secure, and successful implementation of the programs, projects, and activities of the OVP,” said Duterte.


According to Duterte, the fund will be used for “the safe, secure, and successful implementation of programs, projects, activities, and engagements of all the satellite offices, including the central office of the OVP.”


Duterte also admitted to using 2023 confidential funds for programs unrelated to security matters, such as free bus rides, tree planting, and others.

Citing a 2015 joint circular by the Commission on Audit and the Department of Budget and Management, Senator Risa Hontiveros reminded Duterte that confidential and intelligence funds are not allowed to be used for salaries, wages, additional compensation, allowance, or other benefits of officials and employees who are employed by the government or elected officials, except when authorized by law.

“Confidential and intel funds cannot be used for representation consultancy fees, entertainment expenses, or construction or acquisition of buildings or structures,” Hontiveros added.

The Deputy Minority Leader likewise added that she will pursue in plenary and other deliberations that confidential and intel funds must be properly lodged in “other line items of the office or intelligence agencies that are already doing these mandates, even for civilian agencies like the OVP.”

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III likewise questioned what was the OVP’s basis in requesting such budget for confidential fund.

“When you look at the constitution, or any other law, what legal basis led us to include that P500 million confidential fund in [our proposed budget]?” asked Pimentel.


Duterte, on the other hand, said their request for the confidential fund was backed by a 2015 joint circular.

“The basis for our request for confidential funds is the joint circular [in] 2015 where in Section 3.7 defines the confidential funds [as] a lump sum of amount provided as such in the General Appropriations Act for [National Government Agencies (NGAs)],” said Duterte.

“The law does not enumerate the NGAs that can and cannot request confidential funds,” Duterte added.

Later into the hearing, Senator Bong Revilla moved for the approval of the proposed P2.3 billion project, citing the long-standing tradition of offering courtesy to high-ranking officials, including the vice president.

Other senators present in the inquiry also manifested approval for the proposed fund.

In a separate statement issued right after the budget grilling, Hontiveros said she agrees with Duterte when the latter stated that her office could “live without” confidential funds.

“I am happy that Vice President Duterte herself said that they can survive without large confidential funds in 2024. There is no good reason why the OVP should have confidential fund allocations that are larger than the combined confidential budgets of our top security agencies,” Hontiveros said in Filipino.


House panel ends OVP budget talks in under 20 minutes; Makabayan objects

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Sara Duterte seeks P2.3B OVP budget for 2024, including P500M intel fund

TAGS: budget, fund, Office of the Vice President, Sara Duterte, Senate

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