Quimbo: OVP’s P125M secret fund in 2022 spent in just 11 days
MANILA, Philippines — The P125-million confidential fund (CF) lodged with the Office of the Vice President (OVP) in 2022 was spent in just 11 days — quicker than the initial reports of 19 days, Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo confirmed on Monday.
At the plenary debates on the Commission on Audit (COA) proposed budget for 2024, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas asked Quimbo if COA can confirm that OVP spent the CFs from December 13 to 31, 2022, as what was stated in the Statement of Appropriations, Obligations and Balances (SAOB).
Brosas was visibly shocked when Quimbo, who was sponsoring the COA budget, said that OVP actually spent the CF in just 11 days.
“Madam Speaker according to previous talks, it appears that the OVP spent the P125 million in just 19 days, which seems too short of a time, Madam Speaker. Can the COA confirm this? Madam Speaker, this is from the SAOB. It was spent from December 13 to December 31, so that’s 19 days,” Brosas said in Filipino.
“Madam Speaker, the truth is I was also shocked when I read the news that it seems OVP spent the funds in 19 days and I asked COA, and I looked at various reports, but it was not spent in 19 days, but only in 11 days po,” Quimbo answered.
“Madam Speaker, 11 days? It’s hard to think how because if that is for surveillance, how many reward payments were done, it would amount to P11 million per day. So Madam Speaker, it seems short, just 11 days? I just want to confirm if it is indeed 11 days?” Brosas asked, to which Quimbo nodded.
Next, Brosas asked if the CF utilization had been audited already by COA.
Quimbo answered that an audit is ongoing, and COA will submit a report by November 15, 2023.
“The audit is ongoing, and this morning I learned that COA has given their preliminary observations to the [OVP].It means they have issued their audit observation memorandum (AOM) already, Madam Speaker,” she said.
“I just want to repeat that the audit is ongoing, and the AOM are preliminary findings, and again, the AOM has a confidential nature. What we can say is that the AOM conveys the request for additional documents from the [OVP] so that they can explain their expenses, Madam Speaker,” she added.
Brosas explained that she and the rest of the Makabayan bloc are asking questions on the CF use because it is important to ensure the proper utilization of public funds.
“Madam Speaker, we are asking these questions because we should be transparent in how the public funds were spent or used, because that is the mandate of COA, right? That they be able to report how our public funds were used,” Brosas noted.
Discussions at the House have been heated, as Brosas and the Makabayan bloc questioned the presence of CFs in OVP’s 2022 budget.
At one point, Makabayan lawmakers dangled the possibility of filing impeachment raps against Vice President Sara Duterte as they claimed that the CFs were obtained even as the original budget — crafted under former vice president Leni Robredo — had no existing line item for such funds.
But Quimbo and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) disputed these claims, saying that the fund transfer was legal because the CF was placed on an existing OVP project, under the Good Governance Engagements and Social Services Projects.
DBM meanwhile clarified that OVP’s CF was sourced from contingent funds and not the Office of the President budget and, therefore was not an inter-agency transfer.