'Anything can be used as basis for impeachment,' says Gutierrez | Inquirer News

‘Anything can be used as basis for impeachment,’ says Gutierrez

/ 01:32 AM December 01, 2023

The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo is poised to seek legal action against the journalists and news organizations that ran a fake story about the presidential candidate, with his spokesperson saying on Monday that it is dangerous to let these actions be the norm. gutierrez impeachment

Atty. Barry Gutierrez, spokesperson of Vice President Leni Robredo. INQUIRER.net file photo / Noy Morcoso

MANILA, Philippines — Can a future decision by the Supreme Court (SC) be used as grounds for impeaching an elected official?

According to law professor and former Office of the Vice President (OVP) spokesperson Barry Gutierrez, anything can be used as a basis for pursuing an impeachment complaint, as the process is political.


In a statement on Tuesday, Gutierrez explained that they believe that the current OVP under Vice President Sara Duterte committed an error when it asked for and accepted P125 million worth of confidential funds (CF) during the latter part of 2022 when the original budget crafted under former Vice President Leni Robredo did not have an entry for secret funds.


Gutierrez was OVP spokesperson when Robredo’s office submitted its budgetary request for 2022 before the May 2022 national elections and before Robredo ended her term on June 30, 2022.

“Our argument in our petition is that there was a transfer worth P125 million.  This is the provision which grants the power of the purse exclusively to Congress and that provision governs the transfers of appropriations between offices,” Gutierrez said.

“So we think there was a violation of this provision but at the end, only the Supreme Court can say if there was indeed a violation.  Now if you’ll ask if it can be used as a basis for impeachment, anything can be used as a basis for impeachment,” he added.

Gutierrez was one of the lawyers who asked the Supreme Court last November 7 to declare the P125 million CF with OVP in 2022 as unconstitutional.

“If they would choose to frame that there were provisions violated in the fund transfer, then that can stand as a basis and at the end, only a 1/3 vote of the members of the House of Representatives can say if it has basis,” he claimed.

During the discussions on the 2024 proposed national budget at the House, Duterte’s CF requests were thoroughly discussed upon the prodding of Minority lawmakers.  It was then revealed that Duterte’s OVP spent P125 million under confidential and extraordinary expenses.


The questions came months after OVP released reports on their budget utilization for 2022, amid questions from the media about the supposed confidential funds it spent.

In a message to reporters, the OVP sent a screenshot of a budget sheet’s portion called “Summary of appropriations, obligations, disbursements, and balances by object of expenditures,” which detailed expenses such as personnel expenses and travel spending.

However, a portion of the budget that the OVP gave was blotted out.  Eventually, OVP clarified that it had meant to highlight the portion of the confidential fund, and not block it.

The highlighted portion showed a provision under “Special Purpose Funds.” Under the said category was a sub-category of “Contingent Fund,” which contained Confidential Expenses amounting to P125 million.

READ: OVP insists: ‘Confidential fund has been utilized appropriately’

Since then, several Minority lawmakers claimed that the fund transfers are illegal.  According to Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, “the 1987 Constitution prohibits transfer of funds except with respect to constitutional officers like the President relative to savings for augmentation.”

However, the Department of Budget and Management and Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo clarified that the CF was not a fund transfer, but was rather sourced from contingent funds and was placed in a line item of the OVP’s 2022 budget.

READ: DBM says OVP’s 2022 confidential funds technically not a fund transfer — Co

Despite the seeming feud between Duterte and the House — after the chamber reallocated OVP’s proposed P500 million CF for 2024 and the Department of Education’s P150 million CF request — key lawmakers have denied pushing for an impeachment complaint against the Vice President.

READ: Speaker Romualdez denies impeachment moves vs Sara Duterte at House

ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, who at one point said that impeaching Duterte was a possibility, said that the impeachment talks were just casual discussions between lawmakers.

At the end of the day, Gutierrez said that the process of impeachment remains to be political.

“It is political in the sense that at the end, what would determine if an impeachment complaint would prosper or not are numbers at the House of Representatives and at the Senate,” he said.

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READ: Restrain use of secret funds

TAGS: Barry Gutierrez, Impeachment, Leni Robredo, OVP, Sara Duterte

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