Error in use of word: P125-M OVP secret fund is a release, not ‘transfer’
MANILA, Philippines—It was just an “error” in the use of word when the controversial P125 million confidential fund of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) was earlier referred to as fund “transfer.”
Senator Sonny Angara gave this explanation as opposition senators asked about the confidential fund given to the OVP late last year.
Senators on Wednesday began discussing on the Senate floor the proposed P5.768-trillion national budget next year.
“Just for our information or education, was it a transfer from the Contingent Fund to the OVP or a release?” asked Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel Jr.
“Naguguluhan kasi ako sa explanation ng DBM (Department of Budget and Management) e,” Pimentel said.
Angara, sponsor of the budget bill, answered: “It was a release.”
Pimentel, however, argued that it was a transfer based on the “official document reporting the movement of the funds.”
“Does the word transfer have different meanings when we use it in relation to the budget?” he then asked again.
It was at this point that Angara admitted the “error” apparently after conferring with economic managers, which included DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman.
“They’re saying it’s an error in their use of the word transfer. It should be release,” Angara said.
Pangandaman herself wrote the House of Representatives’ committee on appropriations in September to clarify that the P125 million confidential fund of OVP last year was a release and not a fund transfer.
In the letter, the budget chief also clarified that the confidential fund was sourced from the P7 billion Contingent Fund for 2022, and not from the Office of the President.
It was Vice President Sara Duterte herself who admitted in a Senate hearing in September that her office made a request for the confidential fund from the OP.
“We requested confidential funds to the Office of the President as early as August 2022 and we’re only granted the confidential funds in December 2022,” she said.
This confidential allocation for OVP is now the subject of a petition lodged at the Supreme Court, questioning the legality of the said fund release.